A message from Dr. Stephanie Hamm, ACU's Chief Diversity Officer
Dear ACU Community,
We have witnessed some of the worst parts of our nation. We have seen explicit racism and many manifestations of personal implicit bias. Although sad and repeatedly disappointed, I consider this to be an important opportunity to address the systemic and structural racism in our own sphere of influence. As Dr. Schubert recently stated, we have made progress, but we have also been part of the problem in the past. And we intend on moving forward--on the right side of history.
In the past, ACU has taken large and small steps toward racial equity, such as funding an Office of Multicultural Affairs, making a public apology for our past racial sins, presenting and publishing in professional journals and conferences, funding the hires of faculty and staff of color, and hosting diversity training for faculty and staff. More recently, ACU has:
• Opened The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
• The Adams Center hosted author Austin Channing Brown.
• As ACU’s first Chief Diversity Officer, I have gathered a team to better serve ACU.
• This past academic year, the campus has hosted book studies on the books: Gorman, Childers, & Hamilton’s Slavery’s Long Shadow, Brown’s I’m Still Here, and DiAngelo’s White Fragility. My team studied Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist.
• We have held faculty-wide conversations on race, created a White faculty allyship group, invited in an expert to train on ways to make our courses and classroom more inclusive and equitable, and consulted with professional entities and other universities.
• We have added courses to the cultural awareness course list and worked to create more inclusion in the undergraduate research process.
• Many faculty and staff have offered their support, and several offices and departments have hired or identified faculty of color they hope to hire; as well as made positive changes within their own departments, such as educating themselves and adjusting curriculum.
• Courageous conversations have occurred all across campus.
However, we know there is much more to be done to identify and deconstruct our structures and systems that have unintentionally maintained disparity. Our leadership wants to demonstrate ACU’s overall commitment to racial equity. Therefore, we are having open dialogue about the state of our campus and what we must do to improve. These include funding initiatives for students of color, reviewing institutional activities, focusing on diverse hires, training our administration and initiating experiential learning opportunities. We recognize that now is not the time to be silent, but to journey alongside Black and Brown communities.
As you stay tuned for updates on our progress, I ask that you be prayerful. Strong emotions have resulted from the experiences we have had and the confusion we face. I ask students, faculty and staff to have brave, positive conversations. People of color, speak truth in love. White allies, educate family and friends. Racism has affected all of us, and it takes a joint effort to fix it. I am honored to be a part of a group that is working toward a stronger university.
Stephanie Hamm, MSW, PhD
Chief Diversity Officer
ACU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Associate Professor, School of Social Work