Panelists share next steps for President’s Advisory Council on Race – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff

UB is serious about promoting equity throughout university life, but there will be some challenges along the way. And while some changes can be implemented immediately, others take longer.

These were some of the takeaways from the three 90-minute virtual town halls held last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to best implement recommendations from the President’s Advisory Council on Racing.

“If we want to be successful as a university, we need to make sure we live our values ​​every day,” President Satish K. Tripathi said at the start of Tuesday’s town hall meeting. “Today’s conversation is very important in that regard as it builds on UB’s commitment to equity, inclusion and social justice.”

Tripathi established the President’s Advisory Council on Race in June 2020, following racial and social unrest in the US, to help the university “break down structural barriers to equality” and guide UB to be more equitable in its policies, programs, activities and more to achieve traditions.

Last fall, Provost A. Scott Weber commissioned an implementation committee to operationalize the recommendations of the President’s Advisory Council on Race. During last week’s town meetings, the committee co-chairs presented both short and long-term recommendations for making UB a more inclusive place to live, learn and work.

The focus was on seven key areas: recruitment, mentoring and retention of teachers; Scholarship, tenure and recognition; recruitment, mentoring and promotion; curriculum and pedagogy; student experiences and programs; inclusive space; and social engagement. Broadly, the recommendations included:

  • Increasing diversity among faculty, staff and students.
  • Improve mentoring and recognition of faculty and staff to improve retention.
  • Practice inclusive curricula and pedagogy and enhance student success.
  • Building a welcoming campus environment.
  • Better support and recognition of community engagement and dedicated research.

Recordings of the three webinars as well as the PowerPoint presentations can be viewed online.

Over the three days, around 420 people tuned in to the webinars and had the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists.

Common themes emerged throughout the series, including some of the upcoming challenges. While some of the recommendations can be implemented immediately, others will take time, the panelists acknowledged.

Lee Melvin, vice chancellor for enrollment administration and co-chair of the student experience and programs subcommittee, encouraged the campus to think about change now — and stick with it.

“You have to look around your unit and ask yourself, are we doing enough to show that we care about this type of work? And that’s a lot of work,” Melvin said.

“Sometimes leadership changes and then initiatives fall away, but if the whole unit is committed, you can keep pushing this type of work forward,” he said. “So try not to get discouraged if you don’t do everything at once. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t succeed the first time, and don’t be discouraged by others who may try to take you out of focus.”

The panellists also acknowledged that any recommendations that are ultimately implemented must be sustainable and supported with adequate means and resources.

Ultimately, the university needs to ensure that being a diverse institution remains a priority, said David Milling, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“We have to be serious. We have to appreciate it. And that accountability comes from the top down,” said Milling, who serves as co-chair of the subcommittee on community engagement. “So I think that’s how that’s implemented and that’s where the transparency and accountability comes from.”

The provost confirmed the university’s commitment to this work. He said he is confident that together UB can make significant progress on the recommendations.

“I think we want to celebrate where we’ve made progress, but also acknowledge where we still have work to do,” Weber said.

“This has the highest priority for our university and for me. And we will prioritize resources as needed to implement the recommendations. And while my office is leading the implementation, our ultimate success will require the commitment of UB faculty, staff and students across campus working holistically, collectively and supportively to make this a reality,” he said.

The Provost encouraged the UB community to submit feedback by March 31st.

The town halls were chaired by Implementation Committee Co-Chairs Suzanne Rosenblith, Dean of the Graduate School of Education, and Mark Alnutt, Vice President and Director of Athletics, who thanked the subcommittee members for their “commitment, dedication and tireless efforts.” thanked.

“UB indeed owes a debt of gratitude to each and every one of you for your service and contribution,” said Alnutt.

Rosenblith also thanked the participants of the webinars.

“The questions showed that these issues really matter to a lot of people, not just those of us who sit on the subcommittee,” Rosenblith said.

Despina Stratigakos, Vice-Chancellor for Inclusive Excellence, acted as moderator.

“We’re in the process of collecting feedback from the UB community on the recommendations,” Stratigakos told UBNow. “The final report with full recommendations will be made available to the UB community by the end of the academic year.”

The Provost plans to report back to the campus community on progress made each fall.

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