A&S and the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda

A&S and the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda

Dear Colleagues,

President Bendapudi recently announced the launch of the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda, which will guide the university as we work toward becoming the nation’s premier anti-racist research university. I’m quite excited about this initiative that places anti-racism central to what we do. As many of you know, my institutional work has focused for many years on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and my scholarship has been on whiteness and its role in sustaining systemic racial oppression.

My vision for A&S is one of a community grounded on discovering and sharing knowledge and understandings, where all feel at home and recognized as equals. A&S can only enact this vision if we address the systemic problems of justice and equity that are embedded in individual practices and institutional structures. Thus, a primary strategy for achieving this vision is to strive together to build the nation’s premier anti-racist university.

A&S already has a strong foundation on which to build. We can draw on the great work of our academic programs, such as the Departments of Pan African Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the social change minor, the Latin American and Latino Studies program, the Jewish Studies program, the Asian Studies program, the Middle East and Islamic Studies program, and the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Transformation program. Further, we have the work of centers and institutes dedicated to justice and equity, such as the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research and the Commonwealth Center for Humanities and Society.

Looking ahead, we have already started to create changes that will embed antiracist practices into our work in A&S. I am strengthening the College’s infrastructure for leading and supporting this work. We expect to complete the search for a new Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the next few weeks, and I have identified resources to support this new position. I have also charged each department chair, program, center, and institute director, and my senior staff, to identify one or two structural changes that can be made in their department, program, or area that will institutionalize the commitment to anti-racism, equity, and racial justice. I will assemble these into a college-wide plan and hold these leaders accountable for implementing these changes. Additionally, I have proposed a new curricular requirement on race and racism and will be forming a committee to develop a proposal in the coming weeks.

While leadership from the Dean’s office is critical to this initiative, it is also essential that we all contribute to building this vision for A&S and developing UofL into the nation’s premier anti-racist research university. We need to change our actions, practices, and policies so that the College can better achieve the following: recruit and retain more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; build intentionally anti-racist curricula; ensure committees are intentionally diverse; develop budgets that reflect the priority of diversity and equity; become more equitably engaged with our local communities; and ensure adequate cultural competency, implicit bias, and social justice training resources are available.

Additional areas of work may be identified as we engage our students, faculty, and staff in the university conversation about what the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda should mean in practice. To that end, please help us build a robust plan of action by visiting the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda website and providing your input on historic UofL initiatives that provide an anti-racist foundation upon which we can build; current and ongoing initiatives that represent steps UofL is taking to achieve our anti-racism goal; and ideas for new initiatives that foster equity and celebrate diversity.


David S. Owen, Interim Dean
Professor of Philosophy
College of Arts & Sciences