Office of the Chancellor

Message from Chancellor Sartarelli Re: Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UNCW

 

September 18, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

Over the summer, many Seahawks advocated for the university to invest more resources and devote more leadership and expertise to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at UNCW. I am grateful to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who stepped up to demand that UNCW do better than we have ever done before. Your collective action created a renewed impetus for change on our campus and within our community.

Since July, we have taken the following steps to enhance the UNCW experience for people of color and to build awareness among all Seahawks of the racism and bias that we must work to address.

  • In July, we launched the Chancellor’s Renewal and Change Accountability Committee, which held its first meeting on July 28. Trustee Maurice Smith ’79 serves as the committee chair; please see this news article for a list of its members.
  • We also established an initiative to raise $1 million for additional diversity and inclusion scholarship endowment support. Private support, including a gift from me, has reached $450,000 in new commitments as of Sept. 14.
  • In August, we celebrated an important new gift commitment from John Scholz ’84 and his spouse, Dr. Anil Mohin, to expand the space and support the programming at the Mohin-Scholz LGBTQIA+ Resource Office.
  • Since the semester started, we have formed working groups on campus to address faculty search committee training, professional development for faculty and staff in diversity and inclusion, pipeline programs to recruit and retain diverse faculty, a new living and learning community focused on Black history and culture, scholarships for diverse students, 1898 research and archival efforts, an Africana Studies major, and bridge programs to recruit and retain diverse students.
  • In September, we announced that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was launching a Fellows Program, in partnership with other campus divisions, to seek faculty and staff committed to enhancing the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Click here for a complete link to the program description. Click here for the application. Applications are due Friday, September 25.   
  • This fall, we are supporting the UNC System’s Racial Equity Task Force, which will gather information from students, faculty and staff across the system via a Campus Climate survey and a series of virtual town halls to be held in October. I encourage you to fill out the survey, using either the link for students or the link for faculty and staff.

The listening tour that we began in June will continue throughout the year via quarterly meetings of the Chancellor’s Renewal and Change Accountability Committee as well as scheduled and impromptu discussions with students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We will continue to reach out to you and listen to your points of view as we prioritize needs in light of university resources.

Recently, members of the Cabinet and I also met with the Faculty Senate Steering Committee, SGA leadership and Staff Senate leadership to discuss one of the challenges and opportunities that emerged over the summer. As it honors and facilitates free expression, the university has policies in place that outline the time, place and manner of such activity. This includes the location of banners and other expressive activity for student events and public events sponsored by external community organizations or individuals. Until recently, we did not have a specific policy designated to manage the time, date and place for expressive activities, such as banner placement, by faculty and staff.

After careful consideration of several aspects of this issue, as well as feedback from faculty, staff and students, the Cabinet has decided to enact a Policy on Banners, Posters and Temporary Outdoor Signs (Non-University-Sponsored Individuals or Groups). This will bring banner placement by employees into alignment with similar policies around the UNC System and related university policies governing students, external constituents and political activity housed in the Code of Student Life. To present the policy and further discuss issues related to the banners, Interim Chief Diversity Officer Donyell Roseboro and General Counsel John Scherer attended several meetings with faculty, staff and leadership from departments across campus, including a Sept. 11 town hall.  

Under the new policy, the university will work with faculty and other campus constituencies to arrange for transition of the remaining #BlackLivesMatter banners that were placed on campus buildings over the summer to a collective art exhibit. In the coming days, the Office of Facilities will carefully collect the banners and store them in a locked warehouse for eventual inclusion in the exhibit. Employees who do not want the banners they posted featured in the exhibit should contact Allyson Hardison in Facilities Administration at hardisona@uncw.edu or 910.962.2046 to arrange to pick up their banners. With the leadership of the Office of the Arts, existing #BlackLivesMatter banners have been photographed by the Office of University Relations for initial inclusion in a virtual exhibit. With faculty and staff support, existing banners will be curated into an outdoor and indoor exhibit that will be housed in the center of campus.  

As Chancellor, I am excited about the prospect of these art displays, and I encourage the campus community to support these efforts to preserve a memorable and incredibly meaningful time in the history of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Yours in Seahawk Spirit,

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Jose V. Sartarelli
Chancellor