Our shared Jesuit mission calls us to walk on a journey of reconciliation and justice with those whose dignity has been violated. As we work towards the goal of being an inclusive anti-racist institution, I am heartened by the efforts of so many students, faculty, administrators, staff and alumni volunteers in this journey. I would like to provide you with an update on some key initiatives.
1. An update on the Restorative Justice Process related to the Halloween costume incident - We continue to follow through on the action plan developed in the Fall of 2022. Among the ongoing steps:
· The softball team (18 players and four coaches) have completed more than 250 hours (toward a goal of 450 hours) of community service at the Northside Learning Center in Syracuse, which provides various services to refugee families.
· In addition, members of the softball team have participated in DEI training, including classes and readings to educate themselves on issues surrounding immigration in this country.
· Earlier this month, Student Development constructed and oversaw a series of activities to promote honest reflection about barriers to inclusion in our community. These roundtable sessions were attended by team captains from all teams and other student athletes (40 in total), resident advisors and other student leaders.
· Beginning this month, several senior members of the athletics department, the College's senior leadership team, academic deans and department heads are participating in the Courageous Conversations training, which was proposed by the Racial Justice Committee. The training, which is in-person and involves multiple meetings, will be completed in May.
· In late April or early May, the softball team will hold a public forum to discuss lessons learned from their experiences over the past several months and reflect on their work at the Northside Learning Center.
2. In an effort to gain better representation and understanding on the Bias Response Team (BRT) among the campus community, a call was put out for new members earlier this semester. More than 25 students, faculty and staff responded and 14 new BRT members (including two students) are currently going through the training process in restorative justice practices. The training, which began in February and will conclude in early April, is being facilitated by Jamie Cook from InterFaith Works of Central New York.
3. The BIPOC Faculty Association was approved as a standing Faculty Senate committee. This will formalize representation of issues pertaining to BIPOC faculty, not limited to equity in recruitment and retention.
4. A BIPOC Leadership Forum has been established whose goal is to build, foster and maintain a collaborative environment at the College that contributes to the success of BIPOC staff, faculty and administrators in career advancement, professional growth, creating an inclusive work environment free of discrimination and harassment, promoting racial justice throughout Le Moyne, and promoting collegiality with the ultimate result of a campus without racism that embraces the cultures of all members of the campus community
5. The Office of Human Resource is launching a new training for current faculty, staff and administrators, as well as new employees as they are hired, that will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
6. Using Vector Solutions, the College continues to offer DEI training for first-year and transfer students, which is in addition to the racial justice module taught as part of the first-year seminar (Core 100).
7. A collaboration between the offices of Institutional Research, Enrollment Management and Student Learning Assessment is tracking data on DEI demographics and diversity in curriculum outcomes. The College was the recipient of a Cabrini Health Foundation Grant that provides $400,000 for nursing scholarships to traditionally underrepresented students.
8. Multicultural students clubs led by Hannah Mesfin, Jasmine Jones and Byanca Moore have organized a one-of-a-kind inclusive Unity Banquet on Saturday, April 2. The event originally limited to 200 is oversubscribed. It is a diverse and inclusive event bringing together members of Le Moyne’s student body, faculty, staff and administrators. The variety of ethnic dishes they have planned to serve are representative of the rich diverse ethnic cultures of BIPOC here at Le Moyne. Food and conversations at dinner tables are a catalyst to fostering dialogue, building community and breaking down barriers.
9. A public presentation for the campus community on the pros and cons of restorative practices will take place on Thursday, April 21. Panelists will be Jonathan Swartz, associate director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice; Desiree Anderson, associate dean, Diversity and Student Affairs at the University of New Orleans; and Crystal Catalan, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Presentation High School, San Jose, Calif.
10. We are in the final stages of hiring for two new endowed professorships, who will help diversify Le Moyne’s academic offerings and faculty. The finalists have met with BIPOC faculty, international faculty, and BIPOC alums (led by alumni board Chair Giovanni Lucas.) In addition, the College hired Shaun Crisler to serve as associate provost for student development, Mary Grimes as women's basketball coach, JP Rancy as pre-doctoral fellow in the Madden School, and Hasan Stephens as the Keenan Center's Entrepreneur in Residence.
11. The College’s Endowment Investment Committee is informed and guided by the College’s mission and commitment to DEI and environmental sustainability. A significant amount of the College’s portfolio and investment decisions consider the DEI matrix of the firms we invest with.
12. The College has worked to increase the depth and breadth of talks to include more diverse speakers and events with DEI themes, including our recent celebration of Black History Month and Women History Month. Upcoming talks include a talk by Jim Zogby '67, founder of the Arab American Institute on "Out of Many, We Are One; What it Means to Honor Our Promise to New Americans on March 30, and; "Punishment Injustices: Examining Intersectionality, Racial/Ethnic Threat, and Punitive Sentencing Decisions," a talk by Porche' A.W. Okafor, Ph.D. on April 12.
13. In partnership with the Mayor's office and the Syracuse Police Department, Le Moyne faculty members are developing new curricula for the Syracuse Police Academy on issues related to race and policing.
14. We have also worked hard to diversify all of our board governance, and have increased BIPOC representation on the Board of Trustees, Board of Regents, the Alumni Board of Governors, the Madden Advisory Board and the McNeil Advisory Board.
15. The College, through its ERIE21 initiative, has made great strides - partnering with the Syracuse City School District, community service organizations and workforce development agencies - in addressing the city’s persistently high rate of poverty while simultaneously addressing the workforce needs of regional employers.
16. President Linda LeMura was recently named co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, which focuses much of its work on providing economic opportunity for marginalized members of our community.
17. President LeMura was a national leader in advocacy efforts to increase the level of Pell Grant funding. Her work helped increase the grants by $400, the largest increase in more than a decade.
We continue to dedicate ourselves to becoming a more inclusive, equitable and diverse community. I invite all members of our community to continue to heed the “urgent call of Love” made by our U.S. Catholic Bishops in their 2018 letter on racism, “Open wide our hearts: Love compels each of us to resist racism courageously. It requires us to reach out generously to the victims of this evil, to assist the conversion needed in those who still harbor racism, and to begin to change policies and structures that allow racism to persist.”
I thank everyone for the initiatives and efforts you have made in advancing DEI on our campus in healing and transforming our race relations.
Rev. Charles Oduke, Ph.D.
Vice President for Mission Integration, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion