We would like to thank Monica, Greer and the concerned alumni for highlighting and raising serious concerns about some of the systemic issues embedded in our university community through a Letter to the Editor in the March 8 edition of The Bulletin. Dr. Mermann-Jozwiak and Dr. Raymond Reyes both participated in the Race and Ethnic Studies Symposium these alumni applauded, which was facilitated by faculty from the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and provided a wonderful opportunity for faculty, students, alumni and staff to identify the goals, challenges, resources needed and action items for developing a Program in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.
We have discussed the proposed program with President McCulloh, who together with us is very supportive of this proposal and grateful for the efforts of all those who have made it an institutional priority. Focusing significant energy on improving campus inclusivity and diversity, as well as the elimination of racism and incidents of bias, is an important priority for Gonzaga University.
The President and Board of Trustees have devoted time at each of their meetings over the past year and a half to issues of diversity, inclusion and various ways they can meaningfully support students who are from diverse and under-represented populations. Our colleagues within both Student Development, Academic Affairs and Human Resources are also working hard to address systemic issues and institutional barriers.
For example, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, Community, and Equity (DICE) Joan Iva Fawcett, and Dean of Student Engagement Matt Lamsma,– in collaboration with Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Raymond Reyes and Assistant Director, Equity and Inclusion, Human Resources Chris Purviance,– have created a new campus-wide Bias Incident Assessment & Support (BIAS) Team.
Additionally, for this next academic year, DICE is working to expand Intergroup Dialogue into a First-Year Seminar and they have already hired Social Justice Peer Educators to live and work in our residential community. President McCulloh has directed Human Resources to create more inclusive hiring practices throughout the university. For faculty in particular, the Office of the Academic Vice President revised and approved their Faculty Recruiting Policies and Procedures for Search Committees last summer. Searches now include mandatory training for search committees on candidate selection, job postings with language on inclusive teaching and learning and carefully selected advertisement venues to make sure that we cast a very wide net and actively communicate that GU welcomes candidates from underrepresented populations.
Two years ago, under the leadership of our former Academic Vice President Dr. Patricia Killen, and with a group of very engaged and committed faculty, we launched a post-doctoral program for faculty from underrepresented backgrounds. We work very closely with the University of Washington to hire, every year, two faculty members from minority populations, who spend two years at GU to experience what it means to teach at a Jesuit institution and in a liberal arts environment.
We too want to make the university better. We are committed to addressing the systemic issues that undermine our mission and full potential. Therefore, The Council for Equity, Inclusion, and Intercultural Awareness has established a Communications Work Group (chaired by Chris Purviance), and their task is to develop and operationalize a comprehensive communication plan (e.g., website and other media) to provide transparent on-going updates to our various stakeholders and constituency groups. There is much work to be done, and we will continue to hold each other accountable to be an exemplary learning community where all can thrive.
Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Development
Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak, Ph.D.
Interim Academic Vice President