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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chancellor's Message to the Campus

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

Like many of you, I have been moved and concerned by the acts of racism and senseless violence of the last several weeks happening around us in the world, across our nation, and close to home.  As a UMD community and as individuals, we are all impacted by these events.  There is undoubtedly a mix of emotions, fears, and opinions.

We are well aware that our community is not immune to the disparities, prejudice, and behavior that fuel these matters.  Here at UMD, Goal 2 is a core component of our Strategic Plan.  It states our desire to "create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice."  We have made good progress at integrating Goal 2 into our actions and activities.

Yet, we need to recognize and to support historically marginalized members of our community who still seek justice, or even feel threatened, right now. We must realize that we have a long way to go to reach the ambitious goal of a universally inclusive campus community.  Meaningful diversity work requires both community and individual commitments to change, and it requires us all to honestly self-reflect on our own prejudices and shortcomings. We should also be aware of where we are on our journey of understanding and support each other. Each of us should seek actions that we can take to respond to injustice and to make UMD a welcoming place for all.

I am writing you today to ask that we encourage healthy dialogue, that we listen to multiple perspectives, and that we continue to demonstrate our core values and commitment to inclusive excellence.  Universities are exactly where we should have these types of conversations.
We have a number of upcoming events that can help us, including this Wednesday, December 2 at 5 p.m. in Kirby Ballroom where Duke Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva is presenting "Color Blind Racism: Racism Without Racists."

As well, anyone who has experienced racial or other types of discrimination are encouraged to file an incident report with Office of Student Conduct or the Office of Human Resource and Equal Opportunity.

The path to ensuring an inclusive, respectful, and supportive environment starts with me and with all of us.  We need to continue our commitment to equity, diversity, and social justice.  We need to continue to encourage open dialogue and learn from each other.  We need to continue to assess our campus climate and take action to strengthen it.

I ask you to join me and the Campus Climate Leadership Team on this journey.


Lendley Black, Chancellor

Campus Climate Leadership Team