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Advancing Racial Justice: Progress Update and Initiatives


Dear Members of the University Community, 

Earlier this fall, we wrote to you to provide an update on our efforts to advance racial justice and to outline several key actions. Since then, we have shared many hours in enlightening and challenging conversations with students, faculty, staff and alumni, seeking to strengthen our understanding of the views and experiences across our community. We are grateful for your shared commitment and help in vigorously advancing our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals. It is clear to us that we are in the midst of a tremendously generative period of discernment and transformation as we strive to build a truly antiracist community. We take to heart the wise words of the late James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  

What do we mean by committing ourselves and Santa Clara University to building an antiracist community? At heart, 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. In this “beloved community,” we live in solidarity with one another and live in a spirit of generous encounter with one another as we grow into the people and community God calls us to be. 

We have heard your calls for action, transparency and accountability. We can assure you that this work is our priority and that we are taking actions across our campus and at all levels of the University to advance racial justice. The Planning Action Council (PAC), responsible for promoting, coordinating, and planning at the University level, is developing a framework that will ground our racial justice/DEI goals and priorities. At the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, a significant part of the agenda focused on learning about the experiences of Black students, staff and faculty at Santa Clara. As an outcome of that meeting, the board formed a DEI ad hoc Trustee committee to explore ways to support SCU’s racial justice work on the board level. University leadership, including Cabinet members, deans, and other staff, have participated in implicit bias training. Many units across campus have developed reading groups and sponsored discussions about racial justice. We have convened a working group of DEI liaisons from across campus, who will meet each quarter for consistent communication, reporting of DEI initiatives and programs, and mutual support. 

To keep you fully informed, we announce today the unveiling of a new Advancing Racial Justice dashboard that will track progress on new as well as already-established initiatives. This is a work in progress and we are grateful for the efforts of so many across our entire campus in creating it. We will continue to add details and data, because it is important to track, benchmark and share regularly what is happening across campus now and what still needs to be done. Here are a few of the many and ongoing changes resulting from our communications with students, faculty and staff:

  • An active search for the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who will sit on the President’s cabinet and lead the efforts to ensure our antiracism efforts across campus remain at the forefront of University planning;
  • New efforts to increase BIPOC student recruitment through scholarships and targeted outreach to transfer and other students;
  • Progress updates and regular dialogue about the Advancing Racial Justice dashboard with the Inclusive Excellence Student Action Council (IESAC), the Associated Student Government (ASG), the Multicultural Student Union (MCC) and other student leaders;
  • New tenure-track faculty positions in Ethnic Studies (with a Black Studies emphasis) and Women’s & Gender Studies (with an emphasis in Critical Race and Gender Studies);
  • Significant progress with inclusive faculty searches and hiring. Since fall 2018, 56% of our tenure-track faculty hires are faculty of color and 24% are from historically underrepresented communities of color in the academy. Inclusive search training (as usual) is required for all open searches, including current dean and tenure-track faculty searches. 

These are just a few examples of the good work that is underway. We are committed to doing all that is required to get this right and doing so in a transparent, collaborative manner. On the website, you will notice scores of initiatives across the community. In the months ahead, we will engage our community in discerning how to prioritize the initiatives so that we focus our efforts on what is most pressing and what will create long-lasting change.

We look forward to continuing our work together.

With gratitude and hope,

Margaret M. Russell
Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion

Lisa Kloppenberg
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Kevin F. O'Brien, S.J.

© 2022