Update on Advancing Racial Equity Initiative
Dear students, faculty and staff,
Last week’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration at UIC was a time for reflection, renewal and envisioning, for engaging in what MLK called the “fierce urgency of now.” As Dr. King stated: “In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
We cannot agree more. We are continuing to move forward in our Advancing Racial Equity Initiative (ARE) as we work to address racism and its impact on our campus and our neighboring communities. Our overarching goal is to engage in the hard work needed to become a campus where Black and other minoritized students, faculty and staff are valued and can reach their full potential. This initiative has five goals as its pillars: Advancing Student Equity and Inclusion, Supporting Faculty and Staff Inclusive Excellence, Collaborating with Chicago’s Underserved Communities, Reimagining Public Safety, and Ensuring Transparency and Accountability. To learn more about this plan and its specific goals, as well as the different reports prepared by our advising groups that informed the ARE Initiative, please follow this link.
Consistent with this plan, over the last few weeks we have taken a new set of measures (phase 2), described below, in addition to the ones announced in October. These include:
Advancing Student Equity and Inclusion
- Creation of a pathway program for Black students in STEM fields. UIC is currently a finalist for a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) pathway program grant modeled after the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. UIC is committed to becoming the leading university in the Midwest in graduating Black students in the STEM fields by establishing and funding this critical pathway program in the 2022-2023 academic year, regardless of whether we are awarded the HHMI grant or not.
- Creation of an Assistant Vice Provost for Equity and Belonging in the Office of Diversity. This position will consult with members of the UIC community in the development of policy and practice interventions to ensure an inclusive and supportive environment for Black students, faculty and staff, working closely with units across the university to develop creative solutions for continuous and emerging needs.
- Expansion of programming resources for the African American Cultural Center to implement an annual student-designed and student-centered conference on issues of race, equity, social justice, as well as additional programming central to the needs and interests of Black students, faculty and staff.
- Establishing new avenues of support for scholarships for Black students, including, but not limited to, the promotion and dissemination of the Ida B. Wells Scholarship fund.
- Increasing resources for anti-bias training for faculty and staff across the university to help generate a more inclusive campus climate.
Supporting Faculty and Staff Inclusive Excellence
- In response to several recommendations from UIC’s minoritized faculty to highlight and recognize the value of their diversity work, the Provost’s Office has introduced a proposal to recognize diversity, equity and inclusion in the faculty promotion and tenure process. In accordance with our established faculty governance procedures, this proposal is currently being reviewed by the UIC Faculty Senate.
- We are creating a Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, as another measure to recognize and reward exceptional efforts in this area.
- We have significantly increased the number of hires of Black and other minoritized faculty; this year 15 such hires have been approved for various colleges and departments. These hires are separate from the 20 hires that are part of this year’s Bridge to Faculty program.
- We will engage a consultant to conduct a racial equity study of the compensation and advancement opportunities of UIC staff, consistent with the staff working group recommendation.
Collaborating with Chicago’s Underserved Communities
- We are moving forward with plans to create two neighborhood hubs, one in North Lawndale and the other in Auburn Gresham. UIC will work closely with community organizations in these neighborhoods to create vital spaces to address their health, legal and education needs.
- We are working with the leadership of Black alumni in the UIC Alumni Association in an effort to support and revitalize the UIC African American Alumni Council. UIC’s advancement group will provide a dedicated staff person to support the Council in planning and implementation of alumni programming initiatives.
Reimagining Public Safety
- While the Public Safety Board is continuing its work, we have adopted their first recommendation, and effective this month, the UIC Police Department will no longer routinely use race, ethnicity or national origin as a descriptor in public safety advisories.
Achieving Transparency and Accountability
- We are committed to ongoing communication on the Advancing Racial Equity Initiative. We have created a landing page where everyone can receive information about the Advancing Racial Equity goals and progress. This page includes a link to a tracking page with information about our progress in each action item. This page also includes copies of the reports prepared last summer and fall by various groups, including the group of external advisors recommended by the Black faculty.
- We are also committed to monitoring and reporting progress at all administrative levels. This includes all of the university’s academic and non-academic units, which will be asked to create their own Advancing Racial Equity plans with specific goals and metrics. These goals and metrics will be reviewed on an annual basis and will become a component of the annual administrative evaluations. More details and, eventually, the actual plans will become available as the process gets completed later this year.
Michael D. Amiridis
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Diversity