Dear Carolina Community,
Another academic year is upon us. I am grateful to welcome our newest students, faculty and staff, and to welcome back all who are returning. I also want to thank all of you who were here this summer continuing the operations of the University.
Today, I would like to provide an update on our ongoing efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. The circumstances that lead members of our community to feel more or less welcome on our campus are complex and rooted in our University’s history and the history of our country. I recognize my responsibility, and the responsibility of our campus leadership, to make the campus safer, more welcoming and more inclusive. Making this a reality requires hard work, and I am grateful to everyone for the crucial role they are playing. Each one of you – students, faculty and staff – have earned your place at Carolina, and you deserve an environment where you can thrive.
Over the last six months, I have been on a listening and learning tour to hear from a wide variety of faculty and staff about their experience of working, teaching and innovating at Carolina. A common theme has been the need for a more welcoming and inclusive community. Provost Robert Blouin and I have sat down with many of you and heard the heartfelt feedback so openly and graciously offered to us. We have been deeply impacted by what we have learned from the community, and we are incorporating that feedback into our work moving forward.
First, we have made diversity, equity and inclusion a priority in the next phase of the University’s strategic plan, which we are excited to announce early this fall. We will also hold three listening sessions over the next two months on these specific areas. One of the topics we need your guidance on is how to best reimagine the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion to meet the needs of our campus community, including students, faculty and staff. Provost Blouin and I will share the dates for those sessions in the coming weeks and the recommendations we receive in early November. We invite you to attend and lend your voice to this process.
Additionally, next month, we will launch the University’s Commission on History, Race and Reckoning. The commission will have a broad charge and build upon the initial work of the History Task Force, expanding the scope to include community engagement as well as archival and curriculum development. We have heard from many of you already who want to be a part of this opportunity, and we will share details on how students, faculty and staff across campus can join the conversation and be a part of this important effort. We have a lot to do this year, and I look forward to working together.
In the meantime, there are already opportunities to be a part of the conversation, including the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s seventh annual Diversity THINKposium, which will be held on Sep. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. This year’s theme, Voice, is one that touches on the topics we are tackling across campus – how we can use our voices to contribute to the sense of belonging for, and the retention and engagement of, all stakeholders at Carolina.
I want to emphasize my personal commitment, and the commitment of our leadership team, to this critically important priority of inclusion and belonging. I also want to thank Gretchen C. Bellamy, senior director for education and outreach in the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, for her continued leadership and Becci Menghini, interim vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement, for the guidance and support she provides the team.
I am encouraged by the conversations we have already had on this important issue and look forward to working alongside you to build a Carolina community that is an inclusive and welcoming home for all.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz