Message to Parents
Our Road towards Racial Justice
June 22, 2020
As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Loyola University Chicago is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community in which students come together from many backgrounds to advance their learning, their lives, and their communities to serve the greater good. In response to recent national events, Loyola is taking steps to deepen our efforts to understand and address the root causes of systemic racism in our society.
Please find below the latest in a series of communications sent to students, faculty, and staff that outlines three fully funded initiatives to fight racism at Loyola.
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:
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:
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.
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
Our commemoration of Juneteenth and the Stritch School of Medicine’s participation in the White Coats for Black Lives campaign demonstrate ways in which we are moving Loyola towards a more equitable future, but we acknowledge that we still have far to go to address racial injustice. We embrace this work with great humility and an eagerness to listen to the voices in our University and our community that have not been heard.
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