Published December 10, 2020
Dear university community:
With 2020 drawing to a close, I would like to wish all of you a productive end to your semester. For the hard work you have put in, and for the innovations you have developed to make our fall semester a success—in spite of the challenging circumstances we have faced—thank you.
I would also like to take this opportunity to share the progress UB has made toward our goal of achieving a university culture that thrives on the ideals of equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice.
As I wrote to you over the summer, the social justice movement that has brought the issue of racial inequality into sharp relief has amplified our university’s call to combat racism and dismantle structural barriers to equity for our underrepresented minority community, including our Black, Indigenous, Latinx students, faculty and staff. To that end, in June I formed the President’s Advisory Council on Race to explore how we, as a university community, can become more equitable in our policies, programs, activities and traditions.
Over the past six months, the advisory council—comprised of faculty, students, staff and alumni—has identified, researched and reviewed best practices in four focus areas: the recruitment, hiring and retention of faculty and staff; the recruitment, admissions, retention and graduation of students; curriculum and teaching; and community engagement. During this process, principles of social justice have informed and underpinned all of their work.
As the semester unfolded, Provost Weber and I met regularly with the advisory council members to receive updates on their progress and hear their thoughts on how UB can create genuine systemic change for our university community. When the advisory council members had completed their research, they presented their recommendations to us in the four focus areas.
These recommendations, some of which I announced during my State of the University address, include the following:
Provost Weber and I are extremely grateful for the advisory council’s dedicated work and thoughtful recommendations. As our next steps encompass the broader campus community, it is my sincere hope that you can join us in this important conversation.
Specifically, during the spring 2021 semester, we will host a series of Zoom meetings during which our advisory council members will share the process in more detail with our campus community, describing the research they conducted, how they determined benchmarks, and the full scope of their recommendations. Following these conversations, it is my intention that, under the leadership of Provost Weber, UB will initiate a plan for implementing recommendations.
Let me assure you that the work at hand is not a one-time effort; nor do these recommendations represent an exhaustive list. As I have said many times before, there are always other questions to ask and other avenues to explore as we collectively move toward a more just and equitable university community. That is why the President’s Advisory Council on Race will continue to serve in an advisory capacity as long as necessary, meeting with Provost Weber and me to guide our university’s progress and ensure accountability.
Again, I would like to express my appreciation for the diligence and dedication of the advisory council members. I hope that you will join us in the conversations that we are planning for the spring 2021 semester. I look forward to working with all of you to realize the ideals of social justice for our university community.
Satish K. Tripathi