Dear Campus Community:
As I promised in my recent welcome back message, I am writing to share actions we are taking to build upon the crucial conversations about race, equity, and inclusion that our students launched at Carolina last semester.
I want to begin by thanking our students for your willingness to get involved and to help take action that will advance Carolina. I am grateful also to the many others, including faculty, administrators, and alumni, who have spent years working to make Carolina a better and more inclusive community, and who have pledged your ongoing engagement in the important work that lies ahead. All of your efforts have brought renewed focus and energy to our shared goals.
As you may remember, on December 2 the deans and other senior leaders of the University joined me in outlining seven actions that we were initiating in response to the Town Hall. Because we saw these actions as first rather than final steps, and because we wanted to move quickly to achieve them, we did our best over the holiday break to move them forward. Here is our progress to date:
- University leaders, including the Board of Trustees, deans, and members of my cabinet, will convene this winter for education training and dialogue about structural racism and racial bias, how they may persist in our society and on our campus, and what part we can play in alleviating them.
- We are currently working to deliver a concrete plan in February for a dedicated space for black students to gather and meet as a community.
- We have made progress on our survey of the diversity climate at Carolina and are on track to deploy this survey early in the spring.
- The Office of Student Affairs has assessed the new student and transfer orientation processes with an eye toward increasing and improving learning regarding diversity, inclusion, health, and wellness. We will report changes in these programs as they are completed in the next month.
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Student Wellness have redoubled efforts to enhance mental health and wellness services to more successfully serve all students. This work is ongoing and we will provide specific information later this semester.
- The Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History is developing the Carolina Hall exhibit, which will explore race in the history of the University and the power of community involvement in making Carolina a more inclusive institution. More information about this exhibit, as well as the broader work of the task force, is available here.
- Thrive@Carolina, the University-wide effort to foster success and degree completion for all students, has secured endorsements from Faculty Council, our schools and colleges, and numerous other organizations, including the Carolina American Indian Caucus, the Carolina Black Caucus, and the Carolina Latino/a Caucus. This important initiative is already making a difference in the success of our minority students and we will be reporting more actively on our progress in the coming months.
- In addition to our ongoing focus on student success, we have committed to launching a new study of student and faculty retention and student completion, following previous studies completed in 2004 and 2010. We will have preliminary results available early in the fall.
- We have begun work on a new website that will serve as a central resource for communications about these and other initiatives and about race, equity, and inclusion more generally. Until the launch of this new site, please share your campus-wide efforts here and they will be posted on unc.edu.
I want to ensure that all who wish to get involved can do so. If you would be interested in working on any of these initiatives, please let us know by visiting here.
Again, we see these as initial responses and a concrete commitment by Carolina’s leadership to advance across all parts of our university. I look forward to sharing updates throughout the semester.
Carol L. Folt