Message from the Chancellor
Dear members of the UIC community,
Over the last two weeks we have witnessed and joined the strong universal reaction from the people of our country and across the world, unequivocally stating that Black lives matter. The large majority of the people in our own city, and in cities and towns across the country, realize that these incidents of police violence and racism are not Black problems, they are American problems. And we are not going to make progress as a society until we address the endemic structural racism that tolerates and perpetuates the violent behavior that we have so frequently witnessed.
UIC has historically been at the forefront of the nation’s universities, as we created many institutional structures and supporting programs that have led to significant gains in diversity and inclusion. For decades we have also worked closely with Chicago’s underserved communities of color through many research, education, clinical care and community engagement activities.
At the same time, for over twenty years, we have not been able to make acceptable progress in two critical areas: significantly diversifying our faculty and sufficiently increasing the number of Black students on our campus. Without committing to change and acting decisively at this point in our history, we cannot claim that we live up to our mission of access and equity and that we serve all Chicagoans.
I know that many of you have participated in the peaceful demonstrations and you demand action and change. I speak for UIC’s entire leadership team when I say that we hear your voices, we share your frustration and we understand your anger. We also appreciate your willingness and eagerness to contribute to solutions.
We are ready to commit the resources needed and we are looking forward to your recommendations on how we:
- Create an environment for campus conversations and dialogue that lead to culture change.
- Advance initiatives for the diversification of our faculty and create a new system of accountability for their recruitment and retention.
- Build more strategic relationships with K-12 schools in the South and West sides of Chicago.
- Increase academic support and professional development services for Black students on campus.
- Expand support services in the areas of mental health, crisis intervention, restorative justice practices and student housing.
- Expand health care delivery efforts and community partnerships in the Chicago communities and neighborhoods that have faced disproportionate hardship and harm because of COVID-19 and structural racism.
- Continue to build a respectful and safe relationship between the UIC Police Department and our community, including establishing a Campus-Police Liaison Board.
This list is just a starting point and we need to hear your priorities and ideas. We also need your help in developing specific strategies in how we implement our plans. I have asked Vice Chancellor Rex Tolliver and Associate Chancellor Amalia Pallares to convene groups of students, faculty, staff and community members to help guide our efforts.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” During this time of challenge we must stand together on the right side of history in ensuring a more fair and just society.
Michael D. Amiridis