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An Open Letter to the University Community from President’s Council Members Regarding Steps Toward Becoming an Anti-Racist University

Originally published June 15, 2020

The outpouring of grief and anger over the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among others, highlights a longstanding pattern of unjust deaths of Black citizens, along with many systemic, racist injustices that impact African Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Latinx, Asian Americans, and other populations that are underrepresented at UD. As a nation, we can — and must — do better.

We recognize that UD is not immune to the kinds of racist systems and behaviors that perpetuate institutional racism. Historically, this has created barriers and persistent disparities on campus and caused pain for our Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff. As a University community, we can — and must — do better.

As administrative leaders of the institution, we understand that each and every one of us shares in the responsibility to enact meaningful, action-oriented change at UD. To create an anti-racist university of authentic inclusivity that is full of opportunity for all, we are committed on our campus to working for justice and human rights and doing what will improve the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of UD. As a Catholic, Marianist university, we believe every person has innate dignity because all people are made in the image and likeness of God. We are called to embrace human diversity, communicate with respect, and to understand, disrupt, and dismantle systemic racism. Black lives do indeed matter.

While much University-wide discussion will ensue and should drive key initiatives and progress, the administrative leadership is committed to action in at least the following areas. In some cases, change had already begun to be made, and here we identify the steps that will lead to additional progress.

1. Set the expectation that every faculty and staff member will engage in education about bias and privilege; systemic racism; the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the role we each must play to advance these values at the University of Dayton.

Expectations will henceforth be set that all faculty and staff members will engage in relevant professional development and educational experiences, with the range of possible experiences defined and implementation begun by January 2021. This policy is in alignment with the objectives identified in Goal One of the Flyers Plan for Community Excellence Strategic Plan. This initiative also builds on the work done in the Inclusive Excellence Academy, the personal initiative of many faculty and staff, and unit efforts to advance greater awareness and capacity in the work to eliminate racism and discrimination.

Accountability: Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Burnley, Vice President for Mission and Rector Fr. Fitz, S.M., Vice President for Human Resources Washington, Provost Benson, and the University Inclusive Excellence Council

2. Advance the University’s institutional learning goals of diversity and community by educating every undergraduate student through curricular and co-curricular vehicles about the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These learning goals are essential to the University’s educational mission and excellence. Attention will be given, among other things, to institutionalized structures of bias and privilege; social and historical marginalization and exclusion; and systemic racism, along with many other intersectional forms of social oppression and injustice. These educational goals should shape each student’s understanding of, and develop capabilities to foster, equitable and inclusive relationships and practices on the University of Dayton campus and equip them to advance these relationships and practices as alumni. Curricular elements are a strategic priority for the University as evidenced by Goal Four of the Flyers Plan for Community Excellence Strategic Plan. Our Common Academic Program includes multiple components that can deepen these learning goals for all students, from the Humanities Commons to the integrated social science course (SSC 200) and Oral Communication course (CMM 100), and from the diversity and social justice component to capstone courses. Academic programs are available in Africana studies, Latinx and Latin American studies, women's and gender studies, race and social justice, international studies, human rights studies, international and intercultural leadership, and the Humanities Core Program, among others. All incoming students are required to complete an online UDiversity module before arriving on campus, and resources have been invested in the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center to support culturally informed and responsive active learning and community building. Additionally, one of the four learning goals in the University's residential curriculum for students focuses on developing intercultural competencies.

Next steps

The faculty will deepen and focus appropriate courses approved for the Common Academic Program, as well as components of degree programs, to strengthen learning outcomes regarding bias, privilege, racism, inclusion, and equity.

Accountability: Academic Senate, unit curriculum committees, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Pierce, and Assistant Provost for the Common Academic Program Pautz

Continue to develop the diversity/bias module (UDiversity) for incoming students and related components of new student orientation programs to elevate and strengthen the expectations we have for student conduct on campus and the responsibility of all members of the University community to strive to be anti-racist.

Accountability: Vice President for Student Development Fischer, Executive Director of the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center, Associate Provost for Global and Intercultural Affairs Anderson, Vice President for Marketing and Communication Wilson, Vice President Fr. Fitz, S.M., and Campus Ministry Executive Director Sullivan

3. Promote relevant extracurricular learning opportunities for all.

From SGA’s “Tough Talks” and the administration’s “Courageous Conversations” to Campus Ministry’s “Table of Plenty” and the Principles of Oral Communication class required of all students, UD integrates civil discourse and dialogue across campus. Our Dialogue Zone also encourages people with different views and perspectives to build understanding through dialogue. The Inclusive Excellence Academy offers faculty and staff opportunities to increase intercultural knowledge, and the Inclusive Excellence Scholar Residency invites renowned speakers, such as Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, to speak to the campus community on topics related to racism and diversity.

Next steps

Strengthen the capacity of the Dialogue Zone to enable students, faculty and staff to have honest conversations about race and allyship and obtain critical anti-racist resources.

Accountability: Dean Pierce, Associate Provost Anderson, and Vice President Burnley

Extend “Courageous Conversations” from the President’s Cabinet to other leadership groups, including the Provost’s Council and unit leadership groups.

Accountability: Vice President Burnley, Vice President Fr. Fitz, S.M., Executive Director Sullivan, and Provost Benson

4. Strengthen efforts to diversify the student body.

The University is carefully reviewing the June 2023 SCOTUS decision on affirmative action and how this might impact this section of our anti-racist plan. Updates will be provided as necessary.

The University aims to improve financial access and student success to make a UD education possible for students of all backgrounds. Over the past five years through both strategic recruiting activities and new financial aid strategies, we’ve increased the number of incoming undergraduate students identifying as Black or African American by 185%, and the percentage of first-year students of color has almost doubled.

Next steps

Continue to pursue strategies that will enhance the socioeconomic and racial diversity of the incoming undergraduate student cohorts, including engaging previously untapped markets.

Accountability: Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management Reinoehl

Develop strategies (or refine strategies where they already exist) to enhance the socioeconomic and racial diversity of the incoming graduate student cohorts.

Accountability: Academic deans and Associate Provost-designate for Graduate Academic Affairs Anloague

5. Implement an aggressive strategy to increase diversity and equity among faculty, staff, and administrators.

We understand that maintaining the increase in the racial diversity of the student body over the long term — and supporting student success — directly depends upon increasing the diversity of the faculty, staff, and administration. Research also demonstrates that diversifying the faculty and staff prepares all students for success across all professional sectors. Pursuit of the top 10 recommendations from the “Working Group on Hiring and Advancement for Diversity, Inclusion, and Mission” has begun to influence both policy and practice in searches for faculty, staff, and administrators in ways that can reduce implicit bias in searches, provide search committee chairs with a toolkit to expand the diversity of their candidate pool, and more.

Next steps

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Human Resources, and the Associate Provost for Faculty and Administrative Affairs work closely together to resource search committees, but they do not have the personnel to be more proactive in identifying promising faculty, staff, and administrators from underrepresented groups and to support key hiring initiatives that will diversify our academic and non-academic units. We will search for a key staff member with an appropriate skill set beginning in fall 2020.

Accountability: Vice Presidents Burnley and Washington, and Associate Provost for Faculty and Administrative Affairs Roecker Phelps

6. Continue to build a climate of safety.

The University is committed to combatting racism and other forms of discrimination. We adhere to all federal, state, and local civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination, and we actively investigate and respond to any reports of unlawful discrimination, harassment, or bias. Our Department of Public Safety undergoes bias-free police training and implements community policing initiatives that are intended to build strong, trusting relationships with the community. They received the Award for Innovations in Community Oriented Policing by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators in 2018.

Next steps

Continue engaging in state-of-the-art training for public safety officers to ensure fair and impartial policing with the highest degree of integrity; talk openly with communities of color at UD, including Black and Latinx, about their experiences with police; and build productive and respectful relationships with the campus community.

Accountability: Vice President Fischer, Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Kidd, and Vice President and General Counsel Recker

7. Deploy our marketing and communication assets to support diversity, equity, and inclusion at UD.

We aim to accurately and intentionally cover and represent all forms of diversity in the UD community in our marketing and communications. The University engaged in a diversity audit with a third-party vendor during 2019-20, which is providing useful insight and best practices for future work. In addition, the University will continue to use its social media and other platforms to educate and amplify key perspectives and voices related to racial justice to better position UD externally and support our internal progress.

Next steps

Support offices on campus with marketing resources and best practices related to diversity, as well as centralize certain marketing efforts to ensure consistency and quality as well as appropriate coverage and representation of the diverse UD community.

Accountability: Vice President Wilson

8. Strengthen mutually beneficial connections between the University and Black alumni and other alumni of color.

While Black alumni and other alumni of color have demonstrated loyalty to UD, we recognize that many have had more challenging experiences at and with the University than we would like. Our alumni can’t be left behind as we strive to enhance the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of our campus community, and we believe that building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with alumni who have traditionally been underrepresented at UD is essential for our overall success. Their increased presence in key places of volunteer leadership at UD — our alumni board, alumni community leaders, school and unit advisory councils, campaign cabinet and trustees — will ensure inclusivity is not only reflected, but integrated into our strategic direction. Furthermore, these alumni have powerful stories and important input for us to hear as we plan our path forward as an anti-racist institution. Our current and prospective students of color can benefit greatly from networking and personal connections with alumni who have had similar experiences and challenges. We will work together with Black alumni and other alumni of color to develop an approach that extends a clear welcome and creates a navigable path to becoming reconnected with UD or to deepening existing connections.

Accountability: Vice President for Advancement Howe and President Spina

9. Make more visible the history and legacy of UD’s African American community as well as those of other communities that have traditionally been underrepresented at UD.

The Fr. Paul Marshall, S.M. residence hall, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument, and the new Roger Brown Residency in Social Justice, Writing, and Sport are three of the very few markers of the legacy of African-Americans at UD. A committee will be charged to consider additional appropriate ways that the history of African Americans, Latinx, and other underrepresented communities can be made visible and celebrated on campus. A nascent initiative to honor the nine historically significant African-American fraternities and sororities (the “Divine Nine”) will be advanced this coming year.

Accountability: Vice President Wilson, Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning Krysiak, Vice President Burnley, and Dean of Universities Libraries Webb

10. Work with the Dayton African-American community.

A now ongoing, regular, and well-structured dialogue with the African-American community centered in West Dayton began shortly after the arrival of Vice President Larry Burnley. This has led to a variety of good relationships, productive conversations, and, now, the first tangible fruits of those deepened relationships: the Greater West Dayton Incubator (GWDI), intended to create a more inclusive startup ecosystem by providing networking opportunities, training and education, consulting services and other resources. This mutually beneficial initiative — providing as much value for UD and our students as for the African-American community — follows the model of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, the Human Rights Center, and Center for Social Concern, which also work to build relationships and cultivate just communities.

Next steps

Continue to listen to our partners in Greater West Dayton and elsewhere to understand their needs and engage in discussions about mutually beneficial initiatives.

Accountability: Vice President Burnley, Provost Benson, Crotty Center Executive Director Lewis, Fitz Center Executive Director Goodman, and Executive Director Sullivan

11. Expand the University’s utilization of women- and minority-owned businesses, including Black-owned businesses with an emphasis on locally-owned enterprises.

Over the past several years, UD has made a commitment to supplier diversity, which includes pledging to utilize minority-owned businesses. This can boost the local economy, increase social justice, and foster innovation, creativity, and competition in Dayton. The Office of Procurement and Payable Services has implemented a system and policies to enable tracking of University spend with local minority-owned businesses. The office has also tapped into local and state-wide networks that are yielding new, productive local relationships.

Next steps

Support the Executive Director of Procurement and Payable Services in identifying additional minority-owned businesses with which the University can partner. Consider the current situation and local context, and establish by January 2021 3- and 5-year goals for the percentage of our spend with women- and minority-owned businesses.

Accountability: Procurement and Payable Services Executive Director Harrison, Associate Vice President for Financial Support Services Madden, Executive Vice President of Business and Administrative Services Horner, and Vice President Burnley

Our Commitment

As the senior administrative leadership of the University of Dayton, we commit ourselves to work with faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni to take concrete action that will mark UD as an anti-racist institution, enhance the quality of our educational environment for all students, and enhance the quality of life for Black members of the UD community as well as other marginalized populations. Some initiatives — those listed above and others — will come to fruition quickly and others will require deeper conversations and more time, but we stand for justice and are committed to doing our part to enact progress and tangible change.

As a group and as individuals, we hold ourselves accountable for the actions listed above, understanding that there are many groups and individuals working to lead and support this work, and more that is being done.


Amy Anderson, Associate Provost for Global and Intercultural Affairs
Phil Anloague, Associate Provost-designate for Graduate Academic Affairs
Paul Benson, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Deborah Bickford, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Learning Initiatives
Lawrence Burnley, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Alison A. Carr-Chellman, Dean-designate of the School of Education and Health Sciences
Corinne Daprano, Interim Dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences
Bill Fischer, Vice President for Student Development
Rev. James Fitz, S.M., Vice President for Mission and Rector
Andy Horner, Executive Vice President of Business and Administrative Services
Jennifer Howe, Vice President for Advancement
Rick Krysiak, Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning
John Leland, Vice President for Research
Thom Madden, Associate Vice President for Financial Support Services
John Mittelstaedt, Dean of the School of Business Administration
Leslie Picca, Professor of Sociology and Roesch Chair, President of the Academic Senate
Jason Pierce, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Mary Ann Recker, Vice President and General Counsel
Jason Reinoehl, Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management
Lisa Rismiller, Secretary of the Board of Trustees
Carolyn Roecker Phelps, Associate Provost for Faculty and Administrative Affairs
Eddy Rojas, Dean of the School of Engineering
Christine Schramm, Associate Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students
Tom Skill, Associate Provost and Chief Information Officer
Eric F. Spina, President
Andrew Strauss, Dean of the School of Law
Crystal Sullivan, Executive Director of Campus Ministry
Neil Sullivan, Vice President and Director of Athletics
Paul Vanderburgh, Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs
Troy Washington, Vice President for Human Resources
Kathleen Webb, Dean of University Libraries
Tom Weckesser, Executive Director of the President’s Office
Molly Wilson, Vice President for Marketing and Communications