April 20, 2022
Subject: Update on Implementation Racial Justice Task Force
I am writing to provide you with an update on the progress that has been made to implement the recommendations of the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice . By way of reminder, the work of this important institutional priority has been organized through four interrelated bodies: the Racial Justice and Equity Committee of the BSU Board of Trustees, the President’s Cabinet, the Racial Justice and Equity Council, and the Student Advisory Group (a listing of the members of the latter two bodies can be found at the end of this message).
I have worked closely with campus leaders to coordinate agendas, create progress reports, develop a clear plan for reporting outcomes, and to identify obstacles that surface. In those various interactions, I have been impressed with the institutional commitment to advancing the recommendations, but it is clear that the scope and nature of this effort requires that clear lines of responsibility are drawn to ensure each specific recommendation is indeed implemented. Some recommendations call for shared ownership and a need to engage existing institutional processes (e.g., revision of the core curriculum), while others are more easily executed (e.g., refrain from aggregating all race/ethnicities into one grouping titled “faculty of color” or “staff of color”). Recognizing this reality, the Executive Vice President and each Vice President has been designated as the lead responsible party for advancing the implementation of specific recommendations that fall within their purview. Where two or more divisions are involved, teams have been created to move the work forward.
In partnership with the Vice President for Strategy and Planning and the Project Management Office, a reporting tool has been developed, with updates set to be submitted on a quarterly basis. The report calls for the following information on each of the over 70 recommendations generated by the 6 Task Force subcommittees (Curricula and Co-Curricula; BSU Workforce; Education, Training, and Continued Learning Opportunities for Faculty, Staff, and Students; Investing in and Supporting Students: Administrative and Organizational Support Structures; Police and Public Safety; Creating a Place for Ongoing Support, Problem Solving, Reporting Resolution, and Response):
- A summary of the activities completed during the reporting period
- A summary of the activities to be completed in the next reporting period
- Upcoming milestones and completion dates (if applicable)
- Concerns to be shared with senior leadership
- Progress towards implementation of the recommendation
As noted above, many recommendations cross multiple divisions of the university. This has led to the identification of 160 leads or co-leads who have been assigned responsibility for each of them (for example, “supporting and incentivizing professional development in racial justice” involves multiple divisional leads).
It is also important to note that activities alone do not necessarily generate systemic change, although they may contribute to that change. Clearly, as the university responds to the recommendations, it must not treat them merely as a checklist. One of the central challenges of this effort is recognizing that the implementation of a recommendation does not necessarily mean that the work is complete. It may mean that action has been taken. However, that action must be assessed, likely generating further action based on that assessment, and so on. Implementation of the recommendations, as well as the organizational infrastructure designed to advance the work, signifies a deep and non-negotiable institutional commitment to racial justice and equity, one that is in keeping with our shared values. The Task Force report articulated how we are falling short and where we can improve. It is up to us — the entire BSU community — to engage in this work and not resist it, either consciously or unconsciously, as can often occur at predominantly white institutions.
During the course of an extremely challenging academic year, the university has invested much time and energy to advance the Task Force recommendations. A sampling of the work undertaken is provided in the attachment that accompanies this message .
Finally, with the assistance of the Division of Marketing and Communications, we will be implementing a new digital newsletter and website in the fall in order to regularize and institutionalize communication on racial justice and equity to the campus. In the meantime, we will continue to review and refine our implementation practices and procedures to ensure progress.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank every member of the campus community for contributing to the cause of racial justice and equity at BSU over the past year.
Karim Ismaili, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Members of the Racial Justice and Equity Council
Karim Ismaili, Executive Vice President/Provost, Chair
Joyce Rain Anderson, Professor, English
Meredith Beckett, Student
Jill Beckwith, Executive Director, Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice
Alice Cheng, Associate Professor, Psychology
Elizabeth Ching-Bush, Assistant Dean of Students
Emily Cuff, Student, Undergraduate Research
Jeanean Davis-Street, Dean, Ricciardi College of Business
Lauren Folloni, Executive Director, Academic Achievement Center
Kathy Flaherty, Director, IT Project Management (ex officio)
Diana Fox, Professor and Chair, Anthropology
Jocelyn Frawley, Director/Title IX Coordinator/504 Coordinator
Sabrina Gentlewarrior, VP, Student Success & Diversity
Jakari Griffith, Professor and Chair, Management & Marketing
Patrick Joseph, Student, Center of Inclusion & Equity
Samantha Joseph, Alumni
Marybeth Lamb, Associate VP, Athletics & Recreation
Kevin McGowan, Associate Professor, Elementary & Early Childhood Education
Brenda Molife, VP, Outreach and Engagement
Luis Paredes, Director, Institutional Diversity
Mariah Porter, Student
Keri Powers, VP of Human Resources & Talent Management
Pamela Russell, Vice Provost
Samuel Serna Otalvaro, Assistant Professor, Physics Photonics & Optical Engineering
Jibril Solomon, Assistant Professor, Social Work
Marquis Taylor, Gateway Cities Initiative Fellow-in-Residence
David Tillinghast, Executive Director of Public Safety & Chief of Police
Members of the Racial Justice and Equity Student Advisory Group (Spring ’22)
Brenda Molife, Co-Chair
Mariah Porter, Co-Chair