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Friday, November 30, 2012

Important message affirming our commitment to inclusiveness

Dear Colleagues,

It is incumbent upon us as leaders at the University of Minnesota to create an inclusive culture for our students, faculty and staff and to uphold values of respect, inclusiveness and equity.

At UMD, we have been working for over two years on a major initiative to create a welcoming campus where students live, study and learn from and about each other in a supportive environment. As is the case throughout the system, we are creating a campus culture where we respect and embrace the diversity of individuals, perspectives and ideas. Creating a positive climate is an ongoing process and we will not let setbacks overshadow the many strides forward made by students, faculty and staff.

A video with offensive racial slurs created off campus by a UMD student has had widespread impact throughout the University of Minnesota system. We abhor the hurtful video and immediately addressed the situation at UMD. This is not acceptable behavior for anyone at any time--whether at the university or beyond. Information about individuals involved is considered private so we cannot publicly share details related to the incident.

It is a challenge when individuals join our university community who do not share the UMD core value of inclusiveness. While we have taken many steps to teach others to respect and to embrace the diversity of individuals, perspectives and ideas, changing deep-seated beliefs and behaviors takes time. The video is an extreme example that nonetheless serves as a reminder that bias and discrimination fall along a broad spectrum and that even small instances of prejudice and thoughtlessness can have damaging repercussions.

Advancing equity, diversity and social justice across the board requires persistence and long-term effort at all levels of our campus community. As was shared in Reimagining Equity and Diversity: A Framework for Transforming the University of Minnesota (pdf): "Equity and diversity efforts must be led not only by people with formal authority, but also by faculty, staff, students and administrators at every level of operation and responsibility." At UMD, our action plan can be found here: http://www.d.umn.edu/chancellor/climate. Today, we take this opportunity to renew this promise made to our campus community and beyond, and look forward to working with all of you to realize our goals.


Lendley Black

Monday, November 26, 2012

Director of External Affairs Announcement

November 26, 2012

To: UMD Campus Community

From: Chancellor Lendley C. Black

Subject: Director of External Affairs

I am pleased to announce that Twin Ports native Gina Katzmark will join UMD as the director of External Affairs, effective December 17. Gina received strong support from the UMD community, and I am pleased that she will be bringing her outstanding media and marketing expertise to this key position on the Chancellor's Cabinet.

Gina currently serves as the associate director of communications at Wake Forest University Schools of Business in Winston-Salem, N.C. A former television journalist, Gina began her career in Duluth as a reporter/producer and served in various managerial roles over 15 years including executive producer, managing editor and news director.

As director of External Affairs, Gina will provide leadership and cabinet-level administrative oversight to UMD's media and public relations, community relations, government relations, marketing, communication, publications and photography.

"I am honored to return home to serve as a passionate advocate for the people and programs of UMD," said Katzmark. "I look forward to being an ambassador of the 'Those Who Can, Duluth' brand while sharing UMD's success stories with the rest of the world."

Katzmark earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and is currently a Master of Business Administration degree candidate at Wake Forest University. She is the daughter of Edward and Kathleen Katzmark of Superior. She and her husband, Joshua Schmidt, will be living in Duluth.

I would like to thank the members of the Search Committee (Tricia Bunten, Development Office; Mary Cameron, Human Resources; Mark Emmel, Lion Hotel Group; Betty Greene, External Affairs; Lucy Kragness, Chancellor's Office, Chair; Jim Riehl, Swenson College of Science and Engineering; and Mimmu Salmela, KUMD) for sharing their time and their expertise working on this important search.

Please join me in welcoming Gina to UMD.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Racist Video

November 15, 2012

To: UMD Campus Community

From: Chancellor Lendley C. Black

A video with unfortunate racist content has been brought to the attention of the University of Minnesota Duluth administration. We have seen the video; we abhor it. This is unacceptable behavior for anyone, and we at UMD are extremely unhappy to be associated with it in any way.

We take appropriate action in instances like this, but information about individual students is private, and UMD cannot share any information about any particular student. However, we can affirm our disapproval of the video, and reaffirm our goal of providing an environment where students live, study, and learn from and about each other in an inclusive and supportive way. We hope that out of this distressing incident will at least come some broader understanding and personal growth.