Message from UO President Michael Gottfredson
Our commitments to a campus that embraces diversity with a culture of inclusivity and equity are fundamental to our mission. As such, it is imperative that we continuously examine our progress and work to improve our achievements.
When I arrived on campus last August, I learned of solid faculty interest in enhancing our efforts and accomplishments in equity and inclusion, and in strengthening our achievements in diversity. While much has been accomplished at the UO, there was an expressed interest to do more – to examine structure and programming to ensure that we keep pace with the best practices in the field of equity and inclusion.
Our ongoing restructuring of the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), under the leadership of Vice President Yvette Alex-Assensoh, is intended to address some widely-shared concerns from campus and community stakeholders. It will enhance the strengths of that unit and enable it to most effectively pursue its goals. It will allow for the creation of new policies, programs and positions, drawing additional highly-trained, racially and ethnically diverse staff and faculty to the UO.
Dr. Alex-Assensoh, with the support of members of the OEI team and leaders from many campus units, has held several meetings in the past week to discuss our ongoing strategic planning process for equity and inclusion on campus, as well as the organizational restructuring. The meetings have provided an opportunity for transparent and open dialogue. More opportunities lie ahead for all who wish to meet with our campus leadership team to become involved in planning for the future of OEI and our university. Information about these meetings will be posted on AroundtheO, on the OEI website and through ASUO channels.
I want to thank all of those who have participated in these important conversations, through meetings and correspondence. We all appreciate the concerns that have been expressed. All views about these changes are welcome and deserve the serious consideration they will receive. I also want to express my appreciation on behalf of the entire university for the work that has been accomplished by the former Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OEID) and the many contributions of its employees.
We are of course continuing our commitment to outreach work, pipeline programs and partnerships with educational institutions, and engaging in new opportunities that contribute to the state's 40-40-20 goals for post-secondary education. We are committed to strengthening the university’s strong relationships with the tribal governments of Oregon, our local racial and ethnic minority communities, and other civic and cultural groups. Student support programs at OEI remain healthy and robust. The office's new structure will allow us to engage in partnerships with campus advising, academic units and community groups that make our student support efforts even more effective. OEI's restructuring is intended to strengthen our relationships with tribal governments by empowering people in existing positions and bringing additional new employees on board, who will focus on pipeline programming and fundraising for Native American initiatives.
I was also pleased to learn about the new work that is being led by our Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC), the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and VP Alex-Assensoh to help faculty, chairs and deans better understand and use the best practices in recruiting and retaining underrepresented faculty on our campus. Provost Bean and I are committed to working with faculty, chairs and deans to use the new opportunities for hiring as a way to reach out to talented minority faculty at all ranks so that our campus can benefit from the abilities that diverse faculty members bring to campus and our students.
I am grateful for Dr. Alex-Assensoh’s leadership as she moves us toward a position from which we can achieve our shared vision. But the Office of Equity and Inclusion cannot do the work alone. Each member of the campus community has an important role to play in making sure that our commitment to academic excellence is reflected in our attention to recruiting and retaining faculty from diverse backgrounds. We must support all of our students during their time on our campus, and in preparing each of them for an ever-changing world. Thank you for your work to support this institutional commitment.
Michael R. Gottfredson