November 17, 2020

University leadership responds to sociology department’s July letter

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville recently issued a statement in response to the sociology department’s July 7 letter that brought concerns of systemic racism at U of L to university leadership. The statement, sent out Oct. 15, was signed by U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and University Provost Beth Boehm.

The sociology department’s letter addressed inequitable treatment of Black faculty at U of L, including the marginalization of their teaching and research, biased student evaluations, and a lack of opportunity to move into leadership positions. It also challenged the university to go into further detail about its efforts to uplift Black members of U of L and to ensure the fair treatment of Black students, faculty and staff.

The statement reiterated that the university is currently developing the Cardinal Anti-Racist agenda with faculty, staff and student input. This agenda includes many objectives, including recruiting and retaining more students, faculty and staff of color, building intentionally anti-racism curriculum across all disciplines, ensuring boards, committees, and the search and hiring processes are intentionally diverse developing institutional and unit-level budgets that reflect the priority of diversity and equity and more.

Addressing the original concerns the letter brought up, the university detailed how its leadership is working to mitigate disparities among Black faculty by highlighting their scholarly contributions via social media, printed publications, advertising and marketing prowess.

“The provost’s office is currently reviewing how we execute teaching evaluations, and promotion and tenure reviews to identify systemic shortfalls,” the statement said.

In regards to the letter’s accusations of a lack of promotion among Black faculty to leadership positions, university leadership detailed recent efforts to provide leadership training to Black faculty through the VP Faculty Affairs and the Delphi Center.

The statement detailed several other elements of its efforts to ensure a more equitable U of L for Black community members including diversity trainings and university-sponsored minority support groups and associations.

University leadership repeated their commitment to dismantling racism at U of L throughout the statement. They said that they will demonstrate their success in dismantling systemic racism at U of L by replacing old policies with new anti-racist policies, increasing the number of faculty and staff of color, increasing the student of color population and retention rates and by expanding diversity and inclusion efforts, outreach and influence.

University leadership was clear that U of L still had a lot of work to do in this area.

“In closing, it is certainly the case that our beloved university has a lot of work to do to become the premier anti-racist metropolitan research university,” the statement read. “We owe it to our students and our community to create opportunities, break glass ceilings and be bold in our actions to be anti-racist.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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