A Message from Chancellor Ford | June 1, 2020

Published: June 1, 2020
By: UW-Parkside Marketing & Communications

UW-Parkside Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff:   

The challenging events occurring in our region, state, and nation remind us of the importance of our core values of dignity and respect; and validate our shared commitment to higher education.  The killing of George Floyd and many others is representative of systematic injustice across our country. The protests and demonstrations express pent up anger and frustration. We cannot and we must not continue down the path of injustice for many and inclusion for a select few. Silence is not an option and now more than ever we need to embrace the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion embedded in a University of Wisconsin-Parkside education.   

Together, in our diverse learning environment, we pursue truth and understanding. The University of Wisconsin System is founded on The Wisconsin Idea, which signifies a general principle: “that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.”  The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has been and will continue to be a learning community where ideas are born, challenged, and changed – and where minds are enriched and lives transformed. 

Everyone who attends the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and everyone who has graduated from our university is obligated to lead by example and shape a better, more just society for all.  Certainly, there are many ways to effect change. I am confident that those of us who have been touched and shaped by their experience at UW-Parkside will do their part, individually and collectively, to work toward meaningful change in a peaceful manner.  As a learning community, I know we will continue to serve as leaders, educators, and advocates to eliminate racism and injustice.

While we cannot assemble on campus because of the pandemic, we can gather as a learning community to explore the ways in which WE can effect change.  Education is one of the pathways to solutions and I invite you to take a look at The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) report, “Step Up & Lead for Equity,” which includes key actions for us to take as a campus community to further enhance our diverse learning environment and lead in these challenging times: 

  • Know who our students are and will be; 
  • Have frank and challenging dialogues about the climate for underserved students with a goal of effecting a paradigm shift in language and actions; 
  • Invest in culturally competent practices that lead to success of underserved students; 
  • Provide support to help students develop guided plans to achieve Essential Learning Outcomes, prepare for and complete Signature Work, and connect college with careers; and 
  • Make achievement for all students visible and valued. 

A half century ago, when the University of Wisconsin-Parkside was founded, our nation was in the midst of a cultural revolution brought about by a desire for social justice and change. We have made progress, and we also see very clearly that there is still much work to be done. 

In 2009, when I joined the UW-Parkside learning community as a new chancellor I said: “Let's go to the moon and shoot for the stars together.  Let us test ourselves, challenge ourselves and one another, reveal our weaknesses, uncover our strengths and aspire to achieve something great.” The work ahead will be hard, but it is work that must be done. Brighter futures and changed lives will be the measure of our success. 

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside binds us together in our shared commitment to transform lives-- our lives, the lives of our families, and the lives of members of our communities. Each of us is feeling very different emotions: hurt, anger, fear, sadness and uncertainty. We must continue to support one another and we must have the courage to step up and lead for equity and be strong advocates for our core values. I know we will respond to yet another challenge and emerge stronger together. 

Debbie Ford
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

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