Our Road towards Racial Justice
June 16, 2020
Dear Loyola Community,
Responding to President Jo Ann Rooney’s call for action, we recently sent a communication to the Loyola University Chicago community naming some immediate steps that we have taken to start addressing racism. Following that communication, we received hundreds of emails from students, parents, faculty, and staff asking for a comprehensive response. The voices represented in those emails were right on target.
It is true that the University has units performing excellent work on facets of diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Two of these units are the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion. Another unit focusing on students' issues is the Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. In turn, focusing on faculty matters, we have the Provost’s Office for Academic Diversity, the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy, and the Stritch School of Medicine Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In addition, the University has other diversity-focused committees throughout the various schools.
However, despite the efforts in these units, we still have far to go to address racism in both our community and the world. Loyola aims not to allow this letdown to be the final word on our response to racism. With strong resolve, we will progress towards a Loyola that will embrace the essence of anti-racism.
Today, we are announcing three chief, fully-funded initiatives to address racism at Loyola.
The first is the establishment of the Loyola Anti-Racism Initiative. This initiative significantly expands on the work of the Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and includes many of its members. The Anti-Racism Initiative will identify the steps that we must take to move Loyola toward becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural institution by engaging all stakeholders. Five immediate objectives of this initiative include the following:
1. Retaining an outside consulting firm that specializes in anti-racist training for institutions and their people.
2. Creating an asset map of the administration, faculty, and staff who may serve as resources for our work.
3. Implementing best practices in anti-racist pedagogy in all classes.
4. Creating an emergency response plan that administrators may implement during pivotal moments (for example, best practices for outreach, programming, and action steps).
5. Maintaining open channels of communication with the Loyola community during this process.
A group of faculty, students, and staff is working on this initiative under the leadership of Robyn Mallett, the acting assistant provost for academic diversity.
The second initiative will be led by the Office of the Provost to increase faculty diversity and improve the climate among faculty of color at Loyola. Badia Ahad, our new vice provost for faculty affairs, will steer this initiative. Her preliminary proposal has six components:
1. Utilizing cluster hires for scholars from racial/ethnic groups that have been historically underrepresented in academia.
2. Creating the Center for Faculty Excellence to support the writing, research, and creative productivity of tenure track and non-tenure track faculty across campuses. This Center will have special activities to help minoritized faculty members.
3. Establishing strategic hiring and retention plans within academic units for requesting new faculty lines, to ensure that the final slate of candidates is diverse.
4. Requiring members of all search committees to complete anti-racist training.
5. Rewarding academic units that make significant strides in their diversity efforts with newly established diversity awards.
6. Deploying existing faculty to serve as resources and provide a support network for their colleagues as part of the Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison Program, created by Robyn Mallett.
The third initiative is associated with our academic strategy of turning the University towards the most urgent and complex challenges afflicting society. We will confront these challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration among our schools and centers. This past week, the Council of Deans voted to develop a transformative University institute dedicated to uprooting racism, dismantling systemic racial subjugation, and promoting racial justice, healing, and reconciliation. Dean Malik S. Henfield, of the School of Education, will lead the process to develop the Institute. Initially, the process will involve an audit of individual and collective teaching, research, and community-engagement activities related to this persistent social problem. Based on the audit results, the Deans will design, implement, and evaluate new initiatives within each school. The deans will also develop programming across the schools, with support from the Office of the Provost. This cross-school collaboration will lead to pursuit of funding streams to conduct global, community-engaged, intersectional research on racial inequities. The collaborative exploration will include multiple areas. For example, they may encompass human rights, environmental justice, mental health, children and transitional-age youth, aging, migration, health and education outcomes, violence, and wealth and opportunity gaps. All areas will be critically investigated through economic, legal, political, social, and other relevant lenses.
We have the responsibility to start immediately building a better today if our intent is to foster a nobler tomorrow. We should not waste any time towards this ambition, living life with a sense of urgency. At Loyola, the urgency should always be to serve humanity through learning, justice, and faith. Loyolans must respect and value all people—regardless of their background—on the road towards social justice. Given our current climate, few subjects have more significance for social justice than those triggered by racism and bigotry. They shape our current national moment and reveal a tragic truth about our society.
We embrace this work with great humility. We do so with an eagerness to listen to the voices in our University and our community that have not been heard. This journey towards anti-racism is a long marathon, not a sprint. Long-term and sustained actions will follow our immediate steps to move Loyola toward a more equitable future. This work will not be easy and will likely make some members of our Loyola community uncomfortable. We will certainly make mistakes along the way, which we will acknowledge transparently and learn from. Nevertheless, we will persist despite any mistakes and obstacles, because determination, not force, is the crucial element to execute great work.
Together in Loyola,
Norberto M. Grzywacz, Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Robyn Mallett, Acting Assistant Provost for Academic Diversity
Malik S. Henfield, Dean of the School of Education
Badia Ahad, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs