UM Board of Curators announces new diversity initiatives

The initiatives include a first-ever chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer for the UM System and one at each system campus.

The UM Board of Curators announced Monday a new series of diversity initiatives to be implemented over the next 90 days.

The initiatives will address the racial climate on UM System campuses, and the board announced its plan for “an open communication process that invites perspective from across the system,” according to a UM System news release. The list also includes initiatives that are specific to the MU campus.

The announcement came after Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced his resignation and transition into director for research facility development, effective Jan. 1.

“The Board of Curators will not tolerate hateful activities on our campuses — period,” UM Board of Curators Chairman Donald Cupps said in a UM System press conference. “We are taking additional measures beginning today to ensure that our campuses are free of acts of hatred, so that our campuses all embody a culture of respect.”

The initiatives include a first-ever chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer that will be appointed for the UM System. This position will also be established on each individual UM System campus, with the officer reporting to the chancellor.

In regards to racial climate on the UM System campuses, the board also announced a full review of all UM System policies as they relate to staff and student conduct; additional support for students, faculty and staff who have experienced discrimination and disparate treatment; and additional support for the hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff, according to the news release.

The board will also create a diversity, inclusion and equity task force to develop both a short- and long-term strategy, plan and metrics for the UM System; establish campus-based task forces to develop diversity, inclusion and equity strategies, plans and metrics on individual UM campuses; and launch a diversity, inclusion and equity leadership training and development education program, which includes the board of curators, president and administrative leadership along with broader faculty and staff training, according to the news release.

Specifically on the MU campus, the press release reads that there will be a process in place to identify external diversity, inclusion and equity consultants to conduct a comprehensive assessment of diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. There will also be mandatory diversity, inclusion and equity training for all faculty, staff and future incoming students.

In addition to the diversity initiatives, the board will also continue the comprehensive review of student mental health services to ensure that students are referred to the most appropriate resources for their needs at MU.

“I think the biggest part to take away from this is that the administrators are actually starting to listen to us,” said Andrew Pham, external vice president of the Asian American Association.

Dr. Berkley Hudson, chairman of the Faculty Council Committee on Race Relations and an associate professor in the School of Journalism, said in a phone interview Monday night that while he has not had a chance to read the new initiatives at the time of the interview, the main goal for him and the rest of the committee is to “work as closely as possible with administration to make (the initiatives) as effective as possible.”

“I’m more hopeful with the addition of diverse faculty,” Pham said. “I think the presence is what’s really needed here on campus.”

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