Black Lives Matter at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Published: June 16, 2020

By: Chancellor Debbie Ford

Colleagues,

Black lives most certainly matter at UW-Parkside and we must, and will, do a better job serving and supporting our black students, faculty, staff and alumni. As chancellor, I am fully committed to leading this effort. The events of the past few weeks have caused me to think more deeply about my responsibility to use my voice and my position as a leader to improve the educational experiences and outcomes for our black students, and all students of color at UW-Parkside. I fully recognize that what we have been doing is not enough, and I own the disappointment for not making necessary changes. We need to do better. 

As a regional public institution of higher education, we have an obligation to close equity gaps and confront racial disparities. Our efforts have been too isolated and the burden to influence change has been assigned to too few staff members. We all have a responsibility to explore how our actions and inactions contribute to systematic racism, and to commit to resolve these inherent disparities. 

I know that what we do speaks more loudly than what we say. As chancellor, I commit to lead our campus in implementing the following needed and necessary actions.

  • Allocate the resources for faculty and staff to participate in training focused on implicit bias, inclusion, equity, cultural competencies, and equitable teaching and learning practices. Our current efforts must be enhanced, and require faculty and staff to participate in these training sessions. 
  • Host a series of meaningful, productive, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations to understand more fully our campus climate.
  • Conduct a campus climate survey with students during the fall 2020 semester and use the findings to inform our priorities and actions.
  • Support the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council in completing and launching the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. 
  • Increase the diversity of our workforce to reflect the composition of our student population.
  • Continue to implement student success strategies to close equity gaps that currently exist and improve the success of our under-represented students.

We have discussed many of these actions over the years, and now we must move to more persistent and consistent action. Over the summer, I will work with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council led by Dr. Sheronda Glass, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; Governance Leaders; Student Organization Leaders; and the Chancellor’s Cabinet to implement these actions. Updates and additional information will be provided in the forthcoming newsletter focused on our equity, diversity and inclusion data and efforts. 

As we build on the progress we have made over the years and commit to doing better, I ask that you continue to support one another with dignity and respect. The University of Wisconsin-Parkside binds us together in our shared commitment to transform lives – the lives of our students and the lives of members of our university community. As we focus on doing better on behalf of our black students, faculty, staff and community members, we will transform even more lives. 

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