Message Sent To:All Faculty, All Staff, All Students
Message From:Message from the Office of the Provost
Date Sent:Wednesday, December 23, 2020 09:00 AM CST

Update of Racial Justice Work at Loyola University Chicago

December 23, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Heading into winter break, we would like to update you on recent work to advance the goals and strategies of Loyola University Chicago toward racial justice.

Racial Justice Institute
On December 11, we announced the appointment of Malik Henfield, PhD, as the founding dean of the new Institute for Racial Justice (IRJ), effective January 1. This institute will be the first of its kind at a Jesuit university, implementing a transdisciplinary center for research and education around racism and racial disparity in our society. The Institute aspires to gain a greater understanding of racism in all of its forms and to find new ways of connection and action to facilitate greater equity and justice. At the core of the activities of the IRJ are research, education, and community engagement to build community and create capacity by collaborating with individuals, groups, and organizations that seek out, identify, and ultimately eliminate the cultural manifestations of racism and xenophobia that limit the fuller realization of humanity and liberation within the University, the city, the nation, and the world.

Racial Justice Examen
We have embarked on a Racial Justice Examen in each of our academic units. This examen is led by the Anti-Racism Initiative (ARI). This deep and broad reflection on race and racial justice will include examining data on representation and qualitative data on cultural practices. The focuses of the reflection will be around pedagogy, curriculum, selection and retention practices, grievance procedures, service, scholarship, and departmental culture. The process of reflection that began during the fall semester will continue through spring 2021. This process will provide opportunities for each unit to discuss and refine their responses as a community. Responses will be reviewed during the summer of 2021. They will be used to develop an understanding of the current location of each unit along the continuum of anti-racist organizational development. This understanding will form the basis for strategic planning in each unit to address their unique challenges and create informed goals for growth. We encourage everyone to share their perspectives in this process and identify ways to bring policies and practices within their academic units in line with our Jesuit values.

Faculty Diversity Training and Liaisons
Academic Affairs has been developing new content for faculty development. This content is a response to themes articulated in qualitative interviews with faculty of color and women faculty, and in dialogues with student affinity groups. A module on Developing an Anti-Racist Praxis is the latest addition to a library that includes a range of materials. They encompass: Difficult Conversations in Academia; Supporting Diverse Student Success in the STEM Classroom; Diversity Issues in the Classroom; Gender Diversity; Implicit Bias in Faculty Hiring; Micro-Aggressions and What to do About Them; Race Talk in the Classroom; Resources of Diverse Faculty and Students at Loyola; and Strategic Faculty Hiring for Mission and Diversity.

Recently, we have revised policies and procedures for faculty search committees. We have also begun to restructure the academic search-and-hire process to build in professional development and a heightened sensitivity to diversity. To facilitate dissemination of the professional development modules, the Office of Academic Diversity has trained ten faculty Diversity Equity and Inclusion Liaisons (DEILs) and three DIELs in Development (DIDs). DEILs and DIDs deliver faculty professional development upon request. We are incorporating these new faculty trainers into the University community. For example, DIELs will serve as orientation leaders for the Racial Justice Examen. The DEILs will also lead the training of another dozen search committees in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Environmental Sustainability, Arrupe College, and the Quinlan School of Business. During the fall semester, approximately 200 faculty participated in training in strategic faculty hiring and implicit-bias avoidance.

Building Support and Mentorship
In November, we formed a task force focusing on support and mentorship of students and faculty of color. The early work of this task force has included reviewing current mentoring programs across the University. In addition, the task force is working to collect information from other universities and campus partners who have established mentoring programs and initiatives designed to support Black students. Academic Affairs is creating a center for faculty that will focus on mentoring. In these initiatives, Academic Affairs will look for points of connection with the overall University strategic planning process.

New Chair of ARI
The leadership of the ARI will transition on January 1. Robyn Mallett will step down from the leadership of the ARI to focus on her positions as associate provost for academic programs and planning. She will be succeeded at the ARI by Amy Nelson Christensen, clinical assistant professor in education and a researcher on racial identity, anti-racism practices, and school connectedness. Dr. Nelson Christensen’s passion is to create welcoming environments for students and families. Her research interests center on implementation of research-based programs that establish emotionally safe, welcoming, and culturally affirming learning and development spaces. We are grateful to Dr. Mallett for her leadership in the early stages of the ARI.

Ongoing Conversations
We are grateful for the accompaniment of so many as we deepen our commitment to becoming a more welcoming community and actively anti-racist institution. This update represents a fraction of the activity on racial-justice work at Loyola. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni continue to engage in parallel efforts across the global Loyola community.

Over the spring semester, we will continue to engage in a broad array of conversations around history, current events, and future actions around racial justice. These conversations will deepen understanding and move our community forward. For example, the Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion is planning programming for the annual celebration of Black History. We will commemorate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in January. Next, a robust schedule of virtual events marks Black History Month in February. Events include Interfaith Dialogues, a Black History Research Symposium, book discussions, and service days. The Anti-racism Initiative has spurred reflections, discussion, and action across our schools and units, and among our alumni and supporters. You will have many opportunities to add your voice and discuss with others over 2021.

Approaching the end of a challenging year, we extend our deepest appreciation for your commitment and hard work as we build a better Loyola together. Throughout this fall semester, in difficult and often trying circumstances, we have come together. Together we have made concrete progress toward refashioning processes, cultures, and strategies to become an anti-racist institution. The first step out of the gate toward changing cultures has to be envisioning where we want to be at the end. What do we sincerely crave for Loyola? The answer is simple: we crave that the scourge of racism is proscribed from our midst and the world.

Please let this update also serve as an invitation for your continued engagement with a better Loyola.

Warm wishes for a safe and restful winter break.

Together in Loyola,

Norberto Grzywacz, PhD
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Robyn K. Mallett, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychology
Associate Provost, Academic Programs and Planning

Amy Nelson Christensen, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor, Education
Incoming Chair, Anti-Racism Initiative