Conversations and actions on race, discrimination and community

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Dear UNI Family,

I write to you today to acknowledge all of the important conversations we’ve been having about race, discrimination and community. These conversations are not unique to the University of Northern Iowa, but I want you to know that as president, I fully respect and uphold everyone’s right to speak and be heard.

The students on our campus who have recently brought issues to the forefront are courageous leaders. I take full responsibility for not engaging this work earlier and greatly appreciate the professionalism with which our students have acted.

Let me share with you some of the ongoing diversity initiatives we would like to elevate:

  • Increase diversity training for Resident Assistants

  • Heightened Spring Diversity Forum, and consider the potential to expand this work into the Cedar Valley community

  • Hire Student Ambassadors in the Center for Multicultural Education (CME)

  • Increase opportunities for student leadership and development training

Some new initiatives that have been discussed include:

  • Hire a Chief Diversity Officer – we hope to have someone in this position by fall 2016

  • Hire a director for the Center for Multicultural Education

  • Renovate space in the CME for a more inclusive environment

  • Begin robust diversity training for administration, and add training in other offices and departments on campus

  • Institute mandatory faculty search committee meetings that include diversity training

  • Add diversity training in our new faculty and staff orientation

  • Include diversity training in our New Faculty Academy, which will begin fall 2016

Further initiatives will be developed as we listen to the voices of UNI students, faculty and staff.

I encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for engaging issues of diversity and inclusion on our campus. Take time to sit down and talk through issues, to speak candidly, and, most importantly, to listen with an open mind and open heart.

Thank you,

Bill Ruud