Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
I would like to take the opportunity to share some important developments in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on campus. We, as a community, have committed to advancing the work to promote inclusive excellence at the University of Redlands. This work is reflected in many ways on campus.
I share this information as your president, but the accomplishments I highlight here are ours, and indeed, yours. While significant work remains in advancing DEI on our campus, the University of Redlands has made some very important strides that deserve recognition. I congratulate you on your continued commitment to inclusive excellence and your hard work to make it a priority.
I also hope you will join me in welcoming Dr. Justin Rose, our new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. As noted in yesterday’s announcement, Dr. Rose comes to us with a deep understanding of the significance of DEI issues and their value in higher education. We look forward to Dr. Rose joining us on July 1.
The work of the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) continues toward development of an action plan. In addition to reporting to the Board of Trustees at each of its meetings, the ARC continues to make important progress toward fulfilling our goal to be an anti-racist campus. Currently, the ARC is expanding its membership to add different perspectives to its review and development of the three main areas of the ARC’s subcommittees announced in its Fall Update. The subcommittees are developing both short-term and long-term goals as part of its review that will provide the foundation of its proposed action plan.
Last week, we completed our second Diversity in Action (DIA) residency. The 2023 DIA Resident, Dr. Ray Briggs, brought a wealth of experience to our campus, not just as an accomplished musician, but as a scholar and activist. His performance in the Memorial Chapel provided a showcase of his musical talent, while serving as a platform for his respect of history and the social responsibility that we all share. In his public talks, Dr. Briggs spoke about his experiences and shared the unique challenges he has faced throughout his life and career. Even with these experiences, Dr. Briggs shared optimism that could only leave anyone who listened to his words with inspiration.
We have been more intentional about our efforts to be acknowledge and include all parts of our community. Our University now recognizes the federal holidays for the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King and Juneteenth as University holidays. The week of events to commemorate the life of Dr. King, which included an All-Campus Peace Walk, were a time to both reflect and take action to integrate into our own work the principles by which Dr. King lived. The Inclusive Community and Justice Fund continues to inspire new ways to think about how we can be a more inclusive community through active participation in events and programs.
In this same spirit, I would also encourage your participation in these upcoming events. The 2023 University of Redlands Pow wow hosted by Native Student Programs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 25, 2023, on the Quad. On Thursday, March 30, 2023, comedienne Kristina Wong, who is a performer that confronts themes regarding race, sex, and privilege, will be in the Casa Loma Room from 7-8:30 p.m. The Multicultural Festival hosted by Campus Diversity and Inclusion from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, 2023, at Hunsaker Plaza. There will also be an admissions event designed for Spanish speaking families, Bienvenidos a Tu Futuro, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 pm on Saturday, April 15, in Orton Center.
In February, I traveled to Washington, DC where I visited with several members of Congress and Senator Pelosi’s staff to advocate for doubling the Pell Grant. All indicated their support for expanding Pell but noted that the goal of doubling would at least take several years. Still, I was heartened to see that President Biden proposed a $820 increase in his budget proposal. Melina Estrada ‘23 and I also visited Governor Newsom’s staff and California senators and assemblymembers to advocate for the expansion of the CalGrant program by $15.9M to increase the maximum CalGrant and to provide funding for transfer students from community colleges.
In addition, this month, we submitted requests to Senators Alex Padilla and Diane Feinstein for $1,488,319 in federal funds to support development of the Center for Geospatial Excellence (CGE). The CGE will leverage the University’s existing strengths in geospatial education and help to provide flexible pathways to STEM success, as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), for a growing body of students who are first-generation, Latino/a, and working professionals. The request was accompanied by letters of support from Redlands Mayor Paul Barich, Assemblymember James Ramos ‘09, Jack Dangermond founder of Esri, and CA State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh.
Thank you to the hundreds of our students who wrote postcards to federal and state legislators to thank them for the Pell Grant and CalGrant and asking for additional funding. Your time and advocacy efforts were effective and deeply valued.
The Board of Trustees has made a commitment to not only diversify its membership, but to be direct about its own education in DEI and oversight of efforts on campus. To date, they have demonstrated this commitment by establishing a permanent DEI Committee and inviting national experts as part of their education program. Their remaining meetings in 2023, beginning with their May meeting, will have sessions led by Dr. Damon Williams. Dr. Williams, author of Strategic Diversity Leadership and a recognized DEI leader in higher education, is the Chief Catalyst of The Inclusive Excellence Tour. He has worked with university governing boards, Fortune 500 companies, and governmental bodies throughout the world.
Center for Educational Justice (CEJ)
The CEJ hosted “Building a Healthy Society,” a civic engagement collaboration with community partners, school partners, and offices across campus, including enrollment, Johnston, and CAS. Seventy high school students visited the University of Redlands for a day of activities, a visit to Johnston, and lunch at the Irvine Commons. The CEJ also co-hosted the first in a series of educational justice-related film screenings, Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children. The event included a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and a discussion about the landmark Civil Rights court case.
Race in Education Analytics Learning Lab (REAL Lab)
The REAL Lab partnered with the California Council on Teacher Education (CCTE) and surveyed educators, teacher educators, and candidates across California. On March 14th, results and analyses will be shared with CA legislators and staffers to inform future policy efforts.
Rochford College Access Program
The Rochford College Access Program (RCAP) co-hosted the COMPACT Club Mixer Dinner at the University of Redlands for Rochford High School Scholars. RCAP provides support to low-income Redlands Unified School District students and their families to pursue a college degree and this program provides activities for potential first-generation students. These activities build skills to help students go to college and serve to assist their preparation for success in college and their future careers. The COMPACT Club strives to teach students the knowledge they need to compete in the business world.
May Term 2023
In addition to May Term classes that will occur on campus, 110 students will be traveling during May Term courses to eleven countries, including Austria, Czech Republic, England, Eswatini, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Palau, South Africa, Slovenia, and the United States (Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains and Washington, DC).
Our new strategic plan expresses an important set of values, which includes our continued commitment to inclusive excellence. The Overarching Initiatives call out DEI directly and deliberately. Within the strategic plan, Forward Together, we call out the curricular and co-curricular needs of our students, along with the needs to invest in our faculty and staff in order to value all those who makes our community as special as it is today.
Our vision statement, Vision 2032, is to provide a student-focused, personalized education that drives student success. Yet, this vision is meaningful because it requires us to recognize and appreciate the differences that each of us brings to our University. The diversity of our community is a strength, and as we have seen changes over the last several years, we strive to meet these changes with innovative approaches.
Our recent designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) has come with great recognition and great responsibility. It has been our desire to ensure that we give meaning to the “serving” part of our designation and, to that end, we have focused on getting the support needed for us to serve our students properly. With great appreciation to the work of the members of the HSI Working Group, we can share that we are anticipating good news about a recent application that would enhance services and opportunities for Latinx students at the University.
There are important initiatives already in place that serve students at the University: (1) Summer Bridge, (2) First-Year Journey, (3) Students Together Empowering Peers (STEP), (4) First-Year Seminar, and (5) Transfer Student Success. With recognition of our changing student population, we can enhance these initiatives further with additional funding that supports important relationships and opportunities. As an example, our Spatial Studies program reflects a growing area for us.
Spatial Studies Minor Program
Similarly, last year, the School of Business & Society (SBS) partnered with Esri to co-sponsor a $200,000 Women of Color STEM scholarship, which resulted in eighteen (18) talented students being selected to receive the scholarship. SBS and Esri have committed an additional $200,000 for the next academic year to continue this scholarship program.
As the time for Commencement draws near, we should be excited about our commencement speakers, Representative Pete Aguilar ‘01, Assemblymember James Ramos ‘09, and Presidential Medal of Freedom Awardee Sylvia Mendez, and honorary degree recipients Rev. Tom Harshman ‘80, and Garner Holt, who represent the best of who we are and aspire to be as a University. “Inclusive excellence” is not just a concept, but it represents a critical part of who we are as a University. As our strategic plan sets out, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of how we meet the needs of students and launch their success. I wanted to take an opportunity to provide this update as not only information, but also as motivation to continue the work that is the responsibility of each one of us. We have had some important achievements, but we have much more that we can do as we go forward together.
Krista L. Newkirk