Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
I remain committed—along with the senior leaders of this University—to creating a UGA that is better tomorrow and stronger tomorrow than it is today. Embracing our values of diversity and inclusion remains absolutely critical to reaching the heights of excellence we all desire for our great University. During my tenure as President, we have taken many steps together in this direction, and we all recognize that much more must be done on this campus and elsewhere. Today I am excited to announce several new initiatives to advance this important work in the immediate and long-term future. The entire campus community needs to be united and focused on achieving success, and I am confident the Bulldog Nation will rise to the challenge before us.
Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community: I have assembled a distinguished group of individuals to examine issues related to race, ethnicity, and community and to develop concrete recommendations that can be implemented during the coming academic year to continue to improve our campus culture and strengthen our learning environment. The Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community will be charged with developing initiatives and actions that UGA can take to foster a more welcoming and supportive learning environment for Black and other underrepresented members of our campus community. The task force will consider strategies to build community on campus; elevate faculty, staff, and student recruitment and retention efforts; expand training and leadership development opportunities; increase fundraising in support of diversity and inclusion; and grow alumni engagement, among other areas. I am committing $1 million of private resources from the UGA Athletic Association that has been designated for institutional initiatives to implement promising ideas developed by this group. Vice President for Student Affairs Victor K. Wilson will lead this task force as chair, and the other members of the group are presented at the end of this message.
UGA Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence: While the Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community will focus on immediate issues and opportunities, the UGA Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence will cast a longer vision for the future of our University. The planning committee will be charged to develop a comprehensive plan, with specific goals and measures of success, that builds on UGA’s most recent diversity plan, which was developed during my time as Provost here. This important committee will be led by Michelle G. Cook, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives. Kyle Tschepikow, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Strategy and Innovation, will support this effort as co-chair. They recently co-facilitated a successful planning process to develop a new five-year strategic plan for UGA. The other members of this planning committee are listed at the end of this message.
Community Conversations: As an academic community, it is paramount that we engage in open, thoughtful, and constructive dialogue around difficult and complex issues such as race and racism. Community conversations of this nature broaden our understanding, lead to new learnings, and promote positive change and unity. To that end, we are organizing a series of facilitated discussions to occur over the course of the upcoming academic year. These discussions will be open to all members of our community and will be facilitated by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.
60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA: During the upcoming year, we will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA through a series of meaningful programs and events. Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes were the first Black students to enroll at UGA in 1961. It is fitting for us to celebrate their significant contributions to our institution as we seek to create a more diverse and inclusive UGA. More information about this anniversary celebration will be forthcoming.
I have had the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful University as a student, faculty member, administrator, Provost, and President. Over that time, we have made progress in so many areas of our community, but we need to recognize where we have not been as successful and recommit our institution to finding successful pathways to ensure our future as a welcoming and diverse campus.
In just the past year, we have seen the first college at UGA named after a Black alumna, Mary Frances Early. We have also launched the New Approaches to Diversity grant program, which established new programs across campus to promote the success of underrepresented, first-generation, rural, and other underserved students. Through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship program, our alumni and friends have partnered with the UGA Foundation to create over 500 endowed scholarships for students with financial need. In addition, the University System of Georgia (USG) has established an advisory group to study the names of buildings and colleges on all USG campuses, including UGA. The advisory group has established an online form to collect feedback from anyone wishing to share thoughts or suggestions they might have.
Yet, we all recognize that there is more work to be done, and we will do it together. This is an important moment for our University, and I have high expectations for these new initiatives to further unify us as an academic community and help us build a better, stronger UGA for the future.
Jere W. Morehead
Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community
- Victor K. Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs (Chair)
- Margaret “Meg” Amstutz, Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Chief of Staff to the Provost
- Jeffrey Brown, President of the Black Alumni Leadership Council
- Santanu Chatterjee, Meigs Professor of Economics and Director of Full-Time MBA and M.S. Business Analytics Programs, Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business
- Brennan M. Cox, undergraduate student, C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business, Interfraternity Council President
- Rosa Arroyo Driggers, Associate Director of Admissions for Access and Inclusion, Undergraduate Admissions
- Tori C. Ector, graduate student, Mary Frances Early College of Education, Student Government Association Representative to the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors
- Beverly Johnson, Public Service Associate for State Services and Decision Support, Public Service and Outreach
- Camille Jones, undergraduate student, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, President of Georgia Daze
- Linda Kasper, Executive Director of University Housing, Student Affairs
- Jalen Q. Polk, undergraduate student, Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business, President of the Black Male Leadership Society
- Dominique Quarles, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Institutional Diversity
- Michael Raeber, General Counsel, Office of Legal Affairs
- Usha Rodrigues, University Professor and M.E Kilpatrick Chair of Corporate Finance and Securities Law, School of Law
- Alton M. Standifer, Assistant to the President
- Henry N. Young, Associate Professor of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy, Kroger Professor, and Director of Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes and Policy, College of Pharmacy
UGA Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence
- Michelle G. Cook, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives (Chair)
- Kyle Tschepikow, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Strategy and Innovation (Co-Chair)
- Elizabeth Bailey, Senior Associate General Counsel, Office of Legal Affairs
- Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander, Associate Professor of Employment Law and Legal Studies, Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business
- Charles Carabello, Associate Director of Enrollment Management, Undergraduate Admissions
- Yvette K. Daniels, Vice President of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors
- Edward Anthony Delgado-Romero, Associate Dean for Faculty and Staff Services and Professor of Counseling Psychology, Mary Frances Early College of Education
- Grace Gilbert, undergraduate student, School of Social Work, President of Gamma Sigma Sigma and Road Dawgs Leader
- Darrice Griffin, Deputy Athletic Director, Athletic Association
- Juanita Johnson-Bailey, Meigs Professor of Adult Education and Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies, Mary Frances Early College of Education
- Roswell Lawrence Jr., Assistant Vice President and Chief of Staff, Finance and Administration
- William “Bill” M. McDonald, Dean of Students, Student Affairs
- Gwen Moss, Assistant Vice President for Fiscal Affairs, Public Service and Outreach
- Roya Naghepour, law student, School of Law
- Marvin J. Nunnally Jr., President and CEO, In Touch Management Group
- Joshua Patton, undergraduate student, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Black Student Union
- J. Tsai, Winfred N. “Hank” Haynes Professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
- Ronald R. Walcott, Interim Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Seed Pathology and Bacteriology Resources
- Jill Walton, Senior Executive Director for Development, Development and Alumni Relations
- Elizabeth Weeks, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Charles H. Kirbo Chair in Law, School of Law
- David S. Williams, Associate Provost and Director of the Honors Program, Meigs Professor of Religion, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences