back to news July 18, 2018

A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

Janet Box-Steffensmeier, interim executive dean and vice provost, and Wendy Smooth, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, shared the following message with Arts and Sciences students, faculty and staff.

On Tuesday, July 3, the federal administration rescinded a series of guidance documents pertaining to affirmative action, diversity in schools and advice to colleges and universities to use race, among other factors, in seeking to diversify campuses.

While these guidance documents have been rescinded, these actions do not change the status of existing laws of the United States — including the recent Supreme Court ruling, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which upholds the use of race among many factors in admissions.

The College of Arts and Sciences remains committed to excellence, which includes building a diverse community. When entering our classrooms and learning spaces, students expect a world-class educational experience inclusive of a broad range of ideas, backgrounds and experiences, and we must deliver.  

Universities are central places where people of all backgrounds, experiences and circumstances come together to learn and grow from deliberating, discussing and sharing ideas. We occupy a unique space in society by preparing students to learn and engage with one another to address and solve complex problems through shared knowledge. Our diversity is our strength. The College of Arts and Sciences remains steadfast to recruiting and retaining diverse, world-class scholars who enrich our classrooms and learning spaces, and the college will continue to pursue inclusive excellence, which simply makes us better.

We are already taking measures to ensure these priorities are central to all our work, and Wendy Smooth, our newly appointed associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, will lead our efforts. She will charter and chair our new Dean’s Diversity Advisory Committee and act as a thought partner and accountability advocate to ensure that diversity and inclusion objectives are articulated and implemented in our ongoing work and planning. This committee will work in collaboration with students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders to help us address the persistent challenges to and opportunities for creating and maintaining our commitment to inclusive excellence across the college.

Our students, faculty and staff should understand that we are committed to our diversity and inclusion priorities, and we will continue to institute and uphold practices and programs that increase and enrich our academic community. The college, in partnership with advocates across the university, will lead in devising solutions that make us stronger as an inclusive institution.