FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Last week I wrote to you about some deeply concerning incidents raised by students, staff, and faculty at the #BlackAtUARK Twitter address. At that time, we promised to listen, learn and act on what we’ve discovered. While we are still listening and learning, I wanted to update you on some actions we intend to take as a result of recent conversations with our students, as well as next steps already underway.
Establishment and Staffing of Permanent Advisory Board
As I mentioned before, I have been meeting weekly with a Black student leader advisory group. This has been an enormously valuable conversation for me, and I hope for the students, as well. So, the first step we would like to take is to make this a permanent advisory group — with the potential inclusion of staff, faculty and alumni. We have committed to hiring a staff position to oversee, coordinate and provide support to this effort, the role and responsibilities to be defined in subsequent meetings. As we are currently in a hiring freeze, my wife and I have made a personal pledge to provide funds for this position as long as I am chancellor.
The final composition of that board, once determined by the students, will be shared with the campus as soon as it is finalized.
Some enhanced diversity efforts you can expect to see in the near future include:
- Student recruitment and retention
- Faculty and staff recruitment and retention
- Training and expectations around training for the entire campus community
At this point, we have a number of proposals for initiatives and we are in the process of prioritizing them, which we will update you on accordingly.
Report Discriminatory Behavior
It bears reminding our entire community that you have the power to help us stop discrimination and racial acts by immediately reporting them at report.uark.edu. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance reviews and investigates any behavior that violates university policy under the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Needless to say, discrimination in any form is unacceptable and directly conflicts with our university values.
These are just a few of the things underway. This is not an exhaustive list. Formalized, ongoing discussions will shape our future actions and provide a direct conduit to me for voicing concerns as we continue to develop and engage in concrete actions. And rest assured that all our colleges, schools, departments and units are working on their own action plans as well.
I am absolutely committed to working together to make this a truly inclusive campus.