|Dear TCU Campus Community,
It’s a wonderful feeling to be back in community with our Texas Christian University Horned Frogs for the fall 2020 semester. I’ve participated in classes online and in person and remain proud of our work to connect, both academically and emotionally.
Safety, Sustainability and Justice continue to help guide our decisions; we never lose sight of the gravity of these three priorities and how they support our Vision In Action: Lead On strategic plan and affect us now, and in the future. Today, I share with you updates on our collective work in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Race & Reconciliation Initiative:
I hope that you were among the nearly 400 who logged in for the town hall hosted by Dr. Frederick Gooding, Jr., associate professor of African American Studies in the John V. Roach Honors College and chair of the Race & Reconciliation Initiative. He and other members of the committee set the stage for a deep academic exploration of TCU’s history that will allow us to define and address an equitable future. If you missed it, watch the video here. This is a high calling and a complex task, and we are deeply grateful to the committee and the support staff who have been leading in this effort. Also recently announced is TCU’s recent membership in a worldwide movement, the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium, which provides resources and shared research in support of active understanding and healing for our community.
I ask that you please follow and support the members of this initiative and their scholarly work for our University. Join us for the next Virtual Town Hall Meeting, which will highlight the foundational efforts of faculty and staff, which informs our current path. Mark your calendars for 3:30 p.m., September 24.
Title IX Department and Office of Diversity and Inclusion:
Chief Inclusion Officer Dr. Darron Turner recently announced an important internal promotion and increased capacity for his teams to help the University achieve strategic DEI priorities. We are pleased that Sharon Gooding, J.D., has been named director of the Office of Institutional Equity. Andrea Vircks has been named the Title IX coordinator, currently managing two investigators. Read the full letter to learn more about the positive impact of this departmental reorganization. In addition, learn more about the U.S. Department of Education’s recently updated Title IX policies and our coming launch of a new, streamlined approach for filing discrimination complaints or allegations. These changes and additional resourcing combined with campus coordination and partnership will help advance TCU’s ability to support positive cultural change for our campus.
Our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, under Aisha Torrey-Sawyer’s leadership, continues to shape the strategy for systemic change at TCU. As we all know, meaningful change does not happen overnight but instead is achieved through long-term commitment and a vision of what the future can hold. We are indebted to the students and colleagues who have shared their experiences with us; we become better by acknowledging hurt and then enacting strategies that allow growth.
To that end, I hope you will join us for our inaugural Diversity Day Virtual Conference, October 1, 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The theme REFLECT. REIMAGINE. RECONNECT recognizes the need to reflect on our past as well as recognize the complex ways our lives intersect so that we can build a new movement focused on personal and systemic change. In addition to a keynote speaker, Dr. Freeman Harbowski, the conference will have four panels that will concentrate on identified issues related to the following: Intersectionality, Anti-Racism, Racial Healing and Social Activism. Registration information will be available next week.
Over the past few months, this office has undertaken many significant efforts, including but not limited to the Diversity Day Conference, initiating new mandatory diversity training, and the Human Resources/Office of Diversity and Inclusion R.I.S.E. Certificate Program, designed to provide participants tools and learning opportunities to advance personal and professional development in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Please visit their website to gain a greater understanding of the impact of their work.
The engagement of our alumni in our DEI strategies is further proof that Horned Frogs are invested in making the world a better place. Over the course of the summer, our Alumni Association, under the leadership of National Alumni Board President Tracy Williams, has offered a variety of ways for its members to be engaged in meaningful DEI work. As a result, an Alumni DEI Committee, open to all alumni, was established to expand its programming and will focus on the following topics: action, advocacy, education and awareness. It is gratifying to see our alumni continuing to set an example for the world, and use their TCU education to Lead On.
Recognizing Commitment for DEI:
Finally, I announce today that TCU has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, (HEED) Award, which recognizes institutions of higher education that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion for the third year in a row. Let me tell you WHY this is important for TCU. This award does not celebrate the success of our DEI efforts, but instead, it acknowledges our significant work and commitment to the effort of your colleagues in the DEI space. We don’t believe we have reached a destination in our DEI work, but instead find that we should go deeper into our study, actions and efforts. I applaud the efforts of our colleagues at the faculty, staff and student levels. Because I believe that this journey, for many, is not just institutional, but intensely personal as well.
These letters cannot fully communicate the labor of our colleagues, friends and students; there is too much significant work in progress to account for everything in a modest letter. However, as we have done, I’ll continue to inform you through communications, as will our leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion, about efforts underway in which we can participate and support.