Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Statement of UC Irvine Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Today, Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs at UC Irvine issued the below statement to the campus community. It concerns African-American student issues on campus.
"College and universities have been in the national news recently, with headlines focused on their lack of responsiveness to racially motivated incidents. While we have our unique challenges at UCI, we are proud of our progress towards achieving and sustaining a climate of inclusive excellence.

Last January, Chancellor Gillman established the Task Force on Ensuring a Positive Climate for the Campus’ African American Community. The Task Force’s charge was to comprehensively review UCI’s practices as they relate to the climate for our African American community, initially addressing issues raised by the Black Student Union. In June, the Task Force submitted a report with recommendations on how to respond to those issues. Subsequently, the Chancellor asked me to convene a group to oversee the implementation of the recommendations, and I believe it would be helpful to share our progress to date.

· An African American scholars and excellence hall was established in the Arroyo Vista complex and is occupied by a full complement of students.
· The resident assistant position in the Rosa Parks House was restored.
· The creation of a Black Resource Center was approved. The center’s budget was established, a director will soon be recruited and several sites are being considered for a location. The approved budget for the resource center – which includes a director and staff, programs, student interns and other expenses – aligns with the recommendations of the Task Force.
· Efforts to elevate the Program in African American Studies to department status are well underway. The proposal was endorsed by the dean, reviewed by the appropriate faculty and is in final consideration by the Academic Senate.
· The Academic Senate is also working through the proposal to strengthen the multicultural breadth requirement, which adds a learning outcome that must "demonstrate skills to recognize, critically analyze, and question structural systems of oppression."
· The administration has agreed to not refer to incidents of racism or racial insensitivity as "rare or isolated."

I have been bolstered and gratified by the widespread and enthusiastic cooperation in implementing these actions. The collaborative spirit and cooperation of all involved further reinforces the campus’ commitment to sustaining and supporting a diverse community. I look forward to additional progress.

Looking ahead, Chancellor Gillman intended the Task Force to have an ongoing function with a dynamic membership. Douglas Haynes, Vice Provost for Academic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, was appointed chair of the Task Force and will lead efforts to monitor progress, identify opportunities, recommend improvements and analyze best practices.

We recognize that there is more work to do, and we will remain vigilant in cultivating a welcoming, positive culture. We believe UCI should be the standard for inclusive excellence in higher education, and we are determined to create a culture that embraces diversity, celebrates differences and encourages an abundance of opinions."

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs

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