Chancellor’s Update: A Responsibility to Address Racial Inequity

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Dear UWM Faculty and Staff,

Our country is experiencing a series of interrelated and overlapping crises of health, race, the economy and leadership. Today I write about racial inequity and how UWM has a moral and ethical imperative to incite and enact real and long-term change.

I know our university alone cannot solve issues of racial injustice, but we have an important role on our campuses, in the community and in the state. Our Milwaukee-based campus is in the most racially diverse region of Wisconsin with the widest education and economic gaps. We have an opportunity to do more, and, we must.

Personally, I have an obligation to do more and will own that responsibility through a series of campus actions moving forward. These actions provide an opportunity for each of us to contribute to an inclusive, respectful and equitable environment for the UWM family and the students we serve. While several actions are proposed in our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) framework discussions, I have asked members of UW-Milwaukee’s leadership team to advance the following priorities:

  • A campus-wide DEI Council is a strategy in our existing DEI plan. I have asked our Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement, Dr. Joan Prince, to move that strategy forward by convening the group, and establishing specific goals, timeframes, and actions that will be measured and reported. The initial council is inclusive of faculty, staff and students. There will be opportunities for all to engage in working groups.
  • As shared last week, we will provide anti-bias, anti-racist educational modules for the UWM family. A working group has started the task of searching and vetting benchmarked modules and will provide a preliminary report with recommendations to me this summer.
  • Provost Johannes Britz will convene our deans next week to generate specific actions to promote diverse hires and retention of those hires.
  • As a Research 1 institution, our faculty have asked how they can become engaged and utilize their expertise to add to the solutions. The Office of Research is developing a rapid-turnaround mini-grant opportunity focused on social justice issues that will be announced by the end of the month.
  • Zilber School of Public Health Dean Ron Perez has agreed to take on a new additional role as Special Assistant for Strategic Cultural Change. Reporting to me and Dr. Prince, Ron will drive cultural change on campus through identified initiatives. Ron will also serve as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet.
These actions represent only a few ways in which UWM is engaging to more effectively align with our guiding values. Over the next weeks and months, you will hear about several existing and new ways in which each of us can engage in institutional cultural change.

If now is not the time for substantive change – both short and long-term – there never will be. You have my commitment to the realization of and quarterly reporting on the above actions. In addition, through engagements across our campuses over the next several months, coordinated by Dr. Joan Prince, her team and others, I will share more actions and commitments for us all to address racial issues on campus and in the community.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee