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Santa Clara’s Commitment to Racial and Restorative Justice
SCU University Seal

“I offer my deepest apology to those members of our Santa Clara family, past and present, who have suffered the painful sting of racism here. I apologize for racist policies and practices, for actions and inaction, that have caused harm to people of color over the years at Santa Clara... As president, I will prioritize making Santa Clara an antiracist institution. I invite you to join with me in this vital priority, for such transformation requires many hearts, hands, minds, and souls.”

President Kevin O'Brien, S.J.
Convocation Address, September 15, 2020


Events nationally and on campus in the summer of 2020 raised important questions and needed discussions about racial equity and justice. We have heard your calls for action, transparency and accountability. This work is a top priority for us, and we are taking actions across our campus and at all levels of the University to advance racial justice. The following are some of the actions we are taking:


Actions in Progress

  • We have committed additional resources to support the recruitment and retention of Black students, staff and faculty, including initiatives that will address diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom and curriculum, inclusive search commitments in faculty hiring, and new efforts to increase BIPOC student recruitment through scholarships and targeted outreach to transfer students.
  • The Board of Trustees convened and charged a new ad hoc committee to propose measurable objectives for the Board of Trustees to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at the board level.
  • We are actively recruiting to fill the new position, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, who will sit on the President’s Cabinet and lead the effort to ensure our antiracism efforts across campus remain at the forefront of University planning.
  • We have initiated several community efforts to keep racial justice as a top priority at SCU, including facilitating community conversations, establishing working groups across campus, and other program updates. Many campus units (divisions, schools, centers) have chosen a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion liaison for consistent communication, reporting of DEI initiatives and programs, and mutual support.
  • Judge LaDoris Cordell (Ret.) is conducting a comprehensive review of the practices, policies and impact of Campus Safety Services (CSS). With decades of experience in the judiciary, higher education and many other areas of public service, the widely respected Judge Cordell brings to the process rigor, fairness and compassion. The audit is well underway and is expected to be completed next month when Judge Cordell will provide a report to Fr. O’Brien. Judge Cordell’s findings and recommendations will be made available to the community.

  • A highly experienced independent investigator is conducting a fair, impartial and thorough investigation into what occurred on August 22, in accordance with the Interim Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, which was developed and approved through a collaborative process involving students, staff and faculty.



Advancing Racial Justice Dashboard

Icon of computer screen with a line graph and pie chart

Our new dashboard tracks progress on new and previously established Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives. This is part of our commitment to transformative change, collaboration and transparency. We will continue to add details and data to document our work across campus, show accountability and track what still needs to be done.

View Dashboard

What Does It Mean to Be an Antiracist University?

"Antiracism means more than just 'not being racist,' but actively addressing racial bias and dismantling policies and practices that lead to racial inequities and ruptured relationships in our community. In their place, we strive to adopt practices and policies that promote equity and deeper understanding in our community. Being antiracist is an ongoing process of discernment and praxis, requiring honest reflection on who we are and who we want to be. We see antiracism as integrally connected with Santa Clara’s mission as a Jesuit university and our goal of creating a more welcoming community marked by genuine inclusion, hospitality and belonging.”


NOVEMBER 16, 2020

Previous and Ongoing Campus Initiatives

Santa Clara has created this Advancing Racial Justice dashboard to track the antiracism and diversity-building measures planned, underway, or completed in five areas of our campus: Teaching, Learning, and Research; Leadership and Governance; Student Experience; Faculty/Staff Engagement; and Alumni and Community Engagement.

In 2018, Santa Clara conducted a Campus Climate Study as a direct response to the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion and the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. Ten priorities received careful attention and action in 2019.

The Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion (2017) was responsible for developing the Strategic Implementation Plan for the Recommendations of the SCU Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.

Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (2016) brought together campus representatives, alumni, and community leaders to develop strategies to help create the change we wish to see. Among other things, the Commission considered how to improve the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff of color and how to help the University become a more inclusive and diverse community for all populations.

In May 2019, a 10-member Ohlone History Working Group was established to review the current markers and monuments that honor the history of the Ohlone people on campus; consult with Ohlone representatives about their views on the most appropriate ways to honor their ancestors; consult and review commemorations of Native Peoples at other California Missions; and draft recommendations. The Ohlone Report was completed in summer 2020.