From the desk of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion:
In Spring 2004 I interviewed for a faculty position in the School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas. I was immediately made to feel welcome by the School’s faculty, staff, and students, a feeling that resulted in my happy acceptance of the offer to join the U of A community. Since then, I have been fortunate to have continued to be welcomed with open arms and included in all sorts of ways, professionally and personally, by my colleagues and students inside and outside of the department.
In my role as Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, my aim is simple. I aim for a campus culture and climate where every student, staff and faculty member feels as welcome as I did when I first came to the U of A. I strive for everyone at the U of A to feel included and to recognize the value that an inclusive and diverse climate and culture afford to our campus mission, priorities, and goals and to the success of our students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
As the largest educational institution in Arkansas, a holder of the highest Carnegie classification among U.S. universities, and the third largest employer in our state, we have a unique responsibility to lead. To create a culture and climate that reflect an appreciation for inclusivity and diversity, our leadership efforts must take place in and influence not only our campus community, but also our region, state, and beyond. This is an ambitious task requiring our constant effort and attention. Therefore, fostering an inclusive and diverse climate is best seen as a journey, rather than a destination.
As an institution and as individuals, we can advance along this journey by working hard and working together within our campus community and across our state. We will work along with non-profits, businesses, industries, government and municipalities, other educational institutions, and philanthropists within and outside of our state towards a collective goal of inclusive excellence. Inclusive excellence refers to practices and behaviors that promote a sense of belonging and an appreciation for the many ways in which we are different. Inclusive excellence means focusing purposefully on effective strategies to address gaps and barriers such that ALL of us, including those who are most disadvantaged, have the opportunity to progress toward our optimal ability. We can all contribute to fostering inclusive excellence at the U of A by displaying civility, respect, and community in all that we say and do.
I am committed to helping the U of A grow, to promote the same feelings of belonging I experienced 14 years ago when I first set foot on this campus. Together we can make a meaningful difference; together we can build a culture and climate that reflects an appreciation for inclusivity and diversity.