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Message From Eric Spina and Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz Regarding Diversity and Inclusion
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Last week more than 250 students, staff, and faculty attended the “Express Yourself: A Syracuse University Community Conversation on Diversity and Inclusion” forum at Hendricks Chapel.
The event was organized by students and University leaders as a way for students to share their perspectives on the challenges of diversity on campus as the entire community works toward becoming more inclusive. We want to thank all the students and staff who dedicated their time to plan the event. We also appreciate those who moderated the event, including Brittany Moore, student engagement chair of the Student Association; Katie Farr, member of Pride Union; Jermaine Soto, doctoral candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education; and Dalia Rodriguez, associate professor in Cultural Foundations of Education.
At the forum, students and other campus community members voiced their concerns and challenges, shared their stories, and provided ideas and hopes to make Syracuse University a more diverse and inclusive community. It was a constructive and meaningful event, yet only the first step in an important, ongoing dialogue and series of action steps.
At the beginning of the forum, we outlined a set of action items based on concerns raised by groups of students in the weeks leading up to the forum. During the event itself, we also heard new and different issues expressed by students in regard to diversity and inclusion. After considering all of these concerns, today we are writing to you to describe our shared next steps and to seek your further involvement in this important work.
At Chancellor Syverud’s direction, we are creating a set of action-oriented workgroups—each comprised of students, faculty, and staff—to address each particular area of concern and the major themes expressed at the forum. The workgroups will recommend a series of action steps, new initiatives and/or changes to address each area of concern. We ask that students, faculty, and staff step forward and continue to make their voices heard by volunteering to serve on a workgroup.
The University welcomes further input and asks that interested campus community members email firstname.lastname@example.org with their contact information and their preferred workgroup by Friday, October 17 at 5 p.m. Students interested in serving as a student lead should note that as well. Each workgroup will be fully formed in the next two weeks, by October 24. Working with the Diversity and Inclusion Planning Workgroup, we also plan to host another campus meeting in mid-November. During this period we will continue to communicate with you and provide updates on next action steps. Below are the five workgroups to be established:
Diversity and Inclusion Planning Workgroup
• Charge: To serve as an extended planning group to ensure the continuation of dialogue and communication between University leadership and students. This group will also assess and announce additional forums, dialogues, and subsequent workgroups as needed.
• Leadership: Dean of Hendricks Chapel Tiffany Steinwert; Associate Professor in Cultural Foundations of Education Dalia Rodriguez; Senior Vice President of Human Capital Development Kal Alston; and student leaders to be determined based on expressed interest.
Participatory Educational Experience
• Charge: To explore the options for curricular and/or participatory educational experiences, such as intergroup dialogues, and how they can be implemented more broadly.
• Leadership: Associate Provost for Academic Programs Andria Costello Staniec; Assistant Professor in Cultural Foundations of Education Gretchen Lopez; Professor of Teaching and Leadership Programs Mara Sapon-Shevin; and student leaders to be determined based on expressed interest.
Recruitment, Support, Retention, and Success
• Charge: To work with those dedicated to these issues at the broader University level to discuss ways to advance recruitment, support, retention, and success of all student populations with a special focus on marginalized populations.
• Leadership: Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Scholarships and Student Aid Ryan Williams; Director for Retention Kalpana Srinivas; a College of Arts and Sciences faculty member to be determined; and student leaders to be determined based on expressed interest.
Faculty Ambassador Program
• Charge: To develop objectives and a proposed implementation plan to create a faculty ambassador program that engages faculty members in the activities of a diverse and inclusive set of student organizations.
• Leadership: Associate Vice President in Student Affairs Sylvia Langford and Associate Professor in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism Harriet Brown; and student leaders to be determined based on expressed interest.
• Charge: To explore opportunities to better connect students and the Department of Athletics for purposes of creating greater dialogue and understanding among students and student-athletes.
• Leadership: Deputy Athletics Director and Chief of Staff Herman Frazier; David Falk Distinguished Professor of Sport Management Rick Burton; Director of Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Sheila Johnson; and student leaders to be determined based on expressed interest. The existing Student-Athlete Advisory Council, comprised of student-athlete representatives from all teams, will participate in this process.
This is just the beginning. We want to ensure not only that these conversations continue, but that action is taken to improve our University. Our collective goal is a community that demonstrates caring and understanding, and works to ensure that no members of the University feel marginalized or less than welcome. Please join us in driving meaningful change.
Eric F. Spina
Vice Chancellor and Provost
Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz
Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs