McGovern College of the Arts Community:
We have continued to witness deep and profound racial inequities and calls for eradicating systemic racism in our nation and our institutions--including in our universities and in the arts. These calls for change are real, and the change is overdue. We in the arts must continue to lead the conversations and actions that will result in real transformation.
On Monday, June 1, I announced two immediate commitments on the part of the McGovern College of the Arts: an annual internal competitive grant for McGovern College of the Arts faculty, awarded for work that will facilitate and advance the conversation on social justice and systemic inequity; and a scholarship, in memory of George Floyd, awarded to a resident of his native Third Ward to enroll in an undergraduate program in the McGovern College of the Arts.
I have continued to work with the entire McGovern College of the Arts leadership team to shape the college's response. In the spirit of continuing to provide space for substantive dialogue and meaningful action, at this time college leadership is taking the following additional steps:
Opportunities for engagement and listening:
- An open Listening Session with the Dean for McGovern College faculty and staff of color. This meeting will be held Thursday, June 18 at noon, for one hour, virtually on Teams. The meeting is open to all faculty and staff of color in the college. Faculty and staff are invited to bring their concerns and their advice, for presentation and discussion with the Dean. There will be no formal agenda; the meeting will be focused on open dialogue, listening, guidance, and formulation of further actions.
- Appointment of a standing faculty-led Committee on Anti-Racism in the McGovern College of the Arts. This body will be charged with representing the views of the college faculty on anti-racism, specifically with regard to how anti-racism is enacted through college policy. The Committee on Anti-Racism will regularly interact with the Faculty Governance Committee.
- A series of Student Conversations on Anti-Racism, for McGovern College of the Arts students, led by Center for Art and Social Engagement Director Sixto Wagan. These conversations will create space in which students can voice their concerns and offer guidance for meaningful action, with the content of the conversations shared with the college faculty and administration. I thank Sixto Wagan for agreeing to use his time and expertise to facilitate this program.
- A McGovern College of the Arts Summer Read Program for faculty and staff. The program will launch this summer, reading Ibram X. Kendi, How to be an Anti-Racist (New York: One World, 2019). A copy of the book will be provided for those who sign up for the program. The 2020 Summer Read Program will be facilitated by Music Library Coordinator Madelyn Washington. I thank Madelyn Washington for agreeing to use her time and expertise to facilitate this program. Please look for additional communication about this program shortly.
- Launch of a new special topics course in the McGovern College of the Arts: IART 4397/6397: Art and Social Justice. Fleurette Fernando will be the instructor of record and will lead the course design. The course is planned for a spring 2021 launch.
- Revisions to McGovern College of the Arts bylaws to ensure that all standing committees of the college have a mandate to approach their work through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, in order that these values become permanently and substantively integrated into college business activities, planning, policy, and programming.
There is much work to be done; these are only our next steps. I will continue to communicate with you as our initiatives develop.
Our intention is for these steps to lead to real and sustained dialogue that continues to produce meaningful change—where that change will be the result of solutions that are arrived at through collaboration, and through shared understanding and shared initiative, among our entire McGovern College of the Arts community.