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President's Message

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

I want to thank you for participating and engaging in the important conversations around systemic racism in our country. Two days ago at the Community Conversation, I heard from Dr. Rasgado-Flores that we need to help educate each other about racism in order for our colleagues to understand the experience of our black faculty, staff and students. I also heard that the burden of education should not be on our black colleagues. Sharing perspectives and experiences is part of our university’s culture. These experiences matter. Black lives matter. And your university has a responsibility to every black person who is part of it. We need to strive vigorously for an inclusive environment where all feel welcome and heard.

Backing this up with action is our next step.

As I announced two days ago I will directly lead the effort. I am immediately convening a response team-the President's Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to be chaired by Rebecca Durkin. To ensure that this group can respond quickly, it will be small but have representation from faculty, staff and students and from our black community. It will be my eyes and ears and keep me informed. The group will meet regularly and advise me on the issues and develop, lead and measure the effectiveness of the action plan.

The action plan will include (at a minimum) the following:

  1. Curriculum Reform
    Each academic program will evaluate their curricular content and provide an enhancement plan. The faculty development office will develop a plan for faculty education directed at teaching this content.
  2. University-wide Diversity Training
    We will implement diversity training for every member of our university community with the expectation that this training is not a moment in time but a series of on-going trainings.
  3. Review of Admissions Practices
    Each program will review their admissions practices and pipe-line programs. We must have a diverse student population.
  4. We will develop specific strategies and more intentional hiring practices for the development of a diverse faculty and staff.
  5. We will reach out to other colleges and universities in our region because we need to work together to have a bigger impact. I have scheduled a meeting for next week with the president of Lake Forest College. Just as you’ve come together to raise your voices, higher education leaders at different institutions need to do the same to address issues of curricular gaps at early stages, educational access, and inequity. We will advocate for system-wide change in higher education and, more specifically, health professions and medical education.

The members of the task are currently being identified and will be announced early next week. Even if you are not on the task force, you will be involved in this effort whether working on curricular reform, diversity training or other areas of change. An InSite page will be developed that is dedicated to transparent communication about the Task Force including the charge, membership and progress.

This is just the beginning and more will be announced in the days and weeks to come. Continue to give us your ideas and perspectives for moving this important initiative forward. Our doors are open and will continue to be open to you. I want this to work for you and for all who come after you. Working together we can do this!

Sincerely,

Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM
President and CEO