A Message to the UP Community: Following Up On Town Hall, Committing to Action | University of Portland

A Message to the UP Community: Following Up On Town Hall, Committing to Action

Dear Members of the University of Portland Community,

We hope that this email finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

As UP’s leaders, we write to you today in follow-up to our message of Monday, June 1. In the weeks that have followed the death of George Floyd on a street in Minneapolis, we have listened to the voices of many who have shared their experiences of pain, trauma, and discrimination. We have listened to the voices of people who boldly proclaim that Black Lives Matter amidst a stream of structures and systems that emphatically signal to them that they do not. We have listened to the voices of people in our own UP community especially the voices of African Americans and other people of color as they have shared their dismay, anguish, and exhaustion with a lived experience in which their God-given human dignity is denied. We have heard these voices.

Let there be no doubt about where we stand as a Catholic, Holy Cross institution. At the University of Portland, we affirm that Black Lives Matter, we stand in solidarity with our Black community members, and we commit ourselves to the cause of anti-racism. To do anything less would be to shirk our responsibilities and betray our calling as people of faith.

Many in our community rightly demand action. As an institution of higher education, we wield some of the most powerful tools in the fight against racism, discrimination, and bigotry. We believe with deep conviction that true, lasting change comes from teaching, research, service, and formation endeavors at which UP excels. We also believe with deep conviction that such true, lasting change cannot merely be “top down.” Indeed, it is incumbent upon each one of us, whether we are an administrative leader, a faculty member, a staff member, or a student, to examine our positionality, consider our privilege, take stock of our talents, and leverage them to bring about a more just, peaceful, and compassionate world.

Members of our community rightly ask, "what can we do?" At an institutional level, we invite you to explore this PilotsUP website and the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion website which provide useful resources and address many of the steps that UP has taken, and continues to take, to combat systemic racism. We list representative examples of ongoing initiatives and announce some new initiatives here:

  • We will redouble our efforts to establish a major and minor in Ethnic Studies within three to five years and will resume our national search for an Ethnic Studies faculty member.
  • We will implement training modules on issues of institutional racism and implicit bias that will be mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff.
  • We will strengthen efforts to recruit and retain faculty, staff, and students from underrepresented groups. Such efforts will include the continued implementation of industry best practices when it comes to faculty search committees, outreach to high schools and organizations that serve prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds, and enhancements to on-campus services that promote the well-being and success of community members of color.
  • We will further empower the President’s Advisory Commission on Inclusion to collaborate with the Office of International Education, Diversity, and Inclusion on initiatives, programming, and events that will center the voices and lived experiences of people of color, and support such efforts with increased funding.
  • We will implement the University’s revitalized Core Curriculum beginning in 2021. This new curriculum features two “habits of heart and mind,” Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and the Common Good and Global and Historical Consciousness, that have a clear nexus to issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and cross-cultural understanding. We commit to issuing additional grants for innovative course development within these habits.
  • We will place renewed focus on scholarship programs that widen access to UP among underrepresented groups, such as the Davis Scholars, SHE-CAN, and the various scholarships established by UP community members.
  • We will use the coming year’s ReadUP program as a platform for all students, faculty, and staff to read and discuss a literary work that addresses issues of racism.
  • We will continue to invest in and promote existing University organizations that promote inter-cultural awareness, engagement, and empathy, such as the Collaborative for International Studies & Global Outreach (CISGO).
  • We commit to strengthening the University’s relationships with community organizations at the vanguard of advocacy for historically marginalized populations, such as the NAACP, Urban League, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
  • We will continue to sponsor signature events that present our community with the chance to engage deeply in issues of racism, inclusion, and cultural humility, such as MLK Day ON, Faculty Development Day, and Staff Development Day.
While these efforts will help us to live out our ideals, we acknowledge that they won’t, in and of themselves, be sufficient. Your perspectives, insights, and recommendations as UP community members are valued and appreciated. Please direct them to the Office of International Education, Diversity, and Inclusion at oiedi@up.edu.
Healing the wounds of our broken world won’t happen overnight. However, with intentionality and full community buy-in, UP can live more deeply into its aspiration of being a beacon of hope from The Bluff. We thank you in advance for your contributions as individuals and as members of the UP community to these efforts.
Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., Ph.D., President
Thomas G. Greene, Ed.D., Provost
Herbert A. Medina, Ph.D., Incoming Provost
Eduardo R. Contreras, Ed.D., Assistant Provost for International Education, Diversity, and Inclusion