As a nation, we continue to grapple with the conspicuous legacy of slavery and racism. However, the University of California, Merced has stated without equivocation: Black lives always matter. They matter on our campus, in our system and across our nation. UC Merced is committed to work on ending the conditions that continue to target and dehumanize our Black community.
While there are several important initiatives already under way at UC Merced, including efforts toward reviewing and revamping the Policy Advisory Board, developing our mental health resources to meet the needs of our Black students, and many others; today I write to invite you to serve on a newly formed Task Force called “Valuing Black Lives at UC Merced. ” With this task force, I am calling on our community to come together and examine what more we can do to create substantive change in the following areas:
- Student support
- Community engagement
- Policing and anti-Black violence
- Staff and faculty recruitment and retention
- Research, scholarship and other funding opportunities
Currently, the UC Merced Academic Senate is developing a complementary action plan that will direct their activities in the upcoming year to examining faculty diversity; revisiting relevant policies and procedures to better represent diversity, equity and inclusion; addressing barriers to diversity in the professoriate; improving campus climate; and reexamining pipeline to college pathways to further attract underrepresented students to UC Merced.
This task force will work in consultation with leadership, alumni, staff, students, faculty and the Merced community to ensure we are valuing Black lives at UC Merced. I know that each constituency will have important ideas, concerns and solutions and I will welcome all input.
I have asked Dania Matos, J.D., associate chancellor and chief diversity officer, Jonathan Grady, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor and dean of students, and Robin DeLugan, Ph.D., Academic Senate liaison, to serve as co-leads of the task force, and they have all graciously agreed to do so. Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost Gregg Camfield and I will serve as the sponsors of the Task Force.
We recognize this is not an easy task—it is one that requires thoughtfulness and care. With that in mind, I ask that the task force deliver its progress and action plans to Dr. Camfield and me by Dec. 11, 2020, so we can begin to consider and implement recommendations within the 2020-21 academic year.
We are in a movement demanding change. I am confident that in addressing the inequities we can affect and specifically focusing on anti-Black racism, we will achieve a more just and humane future together.
Thank you for your partnership in this work,
Juan Sánchez Muñoz
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost