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September 29, 1994


Last year, I established the Chancellor's Task Force on Cultural Diversity for the express purpose of taking a comprehensive look at the issues of inclusion and diversity at this University. I asked members of the Task Force to determine in a timely manner the objectives, strategies and methods for evaluating the University's progress in shaping a community that will enhance the lives of all its members. The Task Force has completed the first phase of its work and has issued a report which is printed in its entirety in this issue of the University Times. I encourage every member of the University community to read the report.

The presence of the 23 Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning is a visible and physical reminder of the cultural and ethnic diversity of this region and of the contributions these nationalities have made to America. Now, as stated in the Task Force's report, we must move toward a fuller recognition of the importance of diversity and ethnic and racial pluralism in all aspects of University life by creating a deeper sense of community where the contributions of all are recognized and celebrated, where opportunities exist for students, faculty and staff to increase their understanding of multi-cultural perspectives. The need to enhance appreciation and understanding of our increasingly culturally and ethnically diverse society, as well as how to maximize inclusiveness, is a challenge which all institutions face. We have made some progress in this regard, but we must do more — for several reasons. First, diversity and ethnic and cultural pluralism are a reality in American society, as evidenced by the changing demographics in both the larger society and within the college-age population. Second, the inclusion of multi-cultural perspectives is sound academic practice inasmuch as it serves as a means for widening horizons of the interdependent world in which we live and work and, third, a multi-cultural campus supports the valued concerns about social justice and equality.

As a university that enjoys an outstanding reputation in international studies and that continues to attract a significant number of students from abroad, we have the foundation from which to position ourselves among the foremost institutions with a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence and inclusion. The extent to which we are able to realize this goal will depend upon the extent to which the strategies outlined in the Task Force Report are embraced and implemented by faculty, students and staff in the months and years ahead.

J. Dennis O'Connor


Filed under: Feature,Volume 27 Issue 3

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