Editor’s Note: President Daniele Struppa shared the following announcement with the campus community on Monday, June 8.
We are living through an historic time. A time where hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets every day in protest of the social injustice that has taken countless lives of black Americans. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have put more faces to the senseless and horrific acts of violence that plague this country.
Last week, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jerry Price and I met with the Chapman Black Student Union. Through this very productive conversation, we listened and heard about the areas where our students feel Chapman can do better. Through that dialogue and the students’ subsequent statement, we have found clear actions we believe can impact real change.
One request from our students is that we aggressively recruit black faculty and staff.
I acknowledge our efforts in this area have not been effective and know we need to do better. I reflected on how to address this critical need and have moved forward with actions I believe will yield rapid and measurable results.
- I have asked Vice Provost Lawrence Brown (LB)—a respected Chapman thought leader on the African-American experience—to join me in this challenge by also serving as the Presidential Advisor on Faculty Diversification. In this role he and I will work together, at the highest level, and with sufficient support and budget, to hire distinguished faculty of color. I will put my personal energy and reputation on this effort. I will be held accountable if we fail to measurably move the needle in this direction, and I know that LB is the right person to help me and support me in this effort. LB and I will work directly with our deans and our provost to make sure our efforts are in sync with their academic direction. The deans, in partnership with their respective faculty in each school and college, are committed to recruiting diverse faculty and I’m confident this will further support their effort.
- I have also asked Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Powell to serve as the Presidential Advisor on Staff Diversification. Brian is a respected voice for LGBTQ and diversity advocacy. This past year, he implemented our first-ever Affirmative Action Plan that he is now actively using to rebuild our talent acquisition process to deliberately recruit and promote a more diverse staff and administration at Chapman. This will provide a much-needed framework of support for supervisors and campus leaders who are committed to diversifying the staff and administration at Chapman.
The multi-year appointment of these two colleagues as my advisors is only the first step, but I ask that you hold us accountable on the results. As you all know, hiring is a process that takes time but with our energies focused on this goal, I have no doubt that we will be seeing a real evolution in our institution. As many have said: words are easy, but results are all that matter. I am committed to show results.
There are other areas where we need to make a difference, and an important one is curricular diversity.
Each dean will work to advance their own efforts to increase curricular diversity in their respective schools and colleges. As an early success by the faculty and the dean of the Wilkinson College, I am happy to announce that we are in the process of hiring our first-ever Africana Studies professor, who will teach in our new Africana Studies minor launching this fall. This initiative adds to the earlier efforts to introduce a minor in Latinx Studies. I am very proud of the work that our Wilkinson College has been doing. As you all know they started the initiative, “Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on the Significance of Race.” Throughout the fall, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences will be partnering with other colleges, student organizations, and multiple instructors and courses to interrogate the significance of race through a virtual film series, virtual guest lectures and round-tables, a podcast series, art exhibit, and concluding conference featuring student research projects.
I am also proud to mention again the semester-long seminar on “Institutional Racism in America,” building on the work done by one of our own trustees, Andy Horowitz, and led by director of the Honors Program and Professor Carmichael Peters. They will continue to bring seminars and speakers to address social justice in a course that we hope could become a model for engagement at the highest level.
These announcements are only a first step. There will be many more significant changes as work continues by the Chapman leadership and deans, administration, faculty and administration, in partnership with Chapman students. We will continue to work closely with the Black Student Union as we address the specific actions they want to see at Chapman. Vice President and Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jerry Price and I will assemble a committee of students to review and evaluate the extensive diversity and inclusion initiatives in place today and those planned. Dean Price and I are listening to the personal experiences being shared and are committed to improving the Chapman experience for black students.
We ask for your support as we demonstrate concretely, and with measurable results, that we do indeed believe that Black Lives Matter, and that our black students deserve the very best that Chapman can offer.