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June 26, 2020


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University of Central Oklahoma Letters of Support

Countless UCO departments and offices continue to show their support and dedication to racial justice, diversity, inclusion and equity. This week we are proud to share three additional letters from the College of Liberal Arts, Max Chambers Library and Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning.

College of Liberal Arts

We in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Central Oklahoma add our voices to the
growing chorus that calls for change at the local, regional, and national level. The
frequent killings of unarmed Black people, including the recent deaths of George Floyd,
Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, have brought much-needed attention to the Black Lives
Matter movement across the country and compels all of us stand with the Black community
and indeed all People of Color.

The College supports our students, faculty and staff who have participated in the actions –
demonstrations, marches, and meetings (in-person and virtual) – that support the call for
change on national, regional, and local levels in order to challenge—and, ultimately, to
eliminate—systemic racism, the unchecked abuse of institutional power, and the overt and
covert discrimination that continue to make such tragedies not only possible but devastatingly
frequent. The College of Liberal Arts believes Black Lives Matter.

We are also called to action. Please know that the College of Liberal Arts has made and will
continue to make changes that move issues of diversity and inclusion to the fore. These
changes include:

  • The establishment in 2019 of an annual Faculty and Staff Forum to introduce concepts
    of unconscious bias and “normalized” racism to a large audience
  • Support for Faculty and Staff reading groups to explore texts that associated with our
    disciplines to augment underrepresented student voices.
  • The appointment of an Assistant Dean in the College with specific responsibilities
    related to diversity and inclusion
  • The reconsideration of the College’s Mission and Vision statements to reflect an active
    stance with regard to an experience that acknowledges the rich diversity and lived
    experience of our students as we guide them along their academic paths
  • The intentional infusion of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the College’s
    practices, including but not limited to curriculum, assessment, and faculty and staff
    searches.
  • The regular self-assessment and reporting of efforts and actions toward achieving a
    more equitable, diverse, and inclusive community through departmental and college
    self-assessment.
  • Individual efforts on the part of each of our academic units – the seven departments
    and the school that comprise the College.
  • Coordination with University efforts including the Committee on Diversity and the
    newly-formed Inclusive Community Response Team.

Systemic racism is insidious – and is a burden that Black people and People of Color have had to bear for far too long. We are aware that education and action in systemic racism needs to be a continuing process. Black Lives Matter and other social justice movement have taught us that when we know better, we do better and that we do better when we act together. We will be listening to our faculty and students as new issues and opportunities for improvement arise. We invite everyone – members of the faculty and staff, as well as current and former students – to join us as we move our college, and indeed the university, forward.

Dean Catherine Webster
with unanimous support of the CLA Chairs’ Council

 

Max Chambers Library

To the UCO Community,

Those of us who work at the Max Chambers Library are deeply saddened and experiencing indignation following the senseless, brutal death of Mr. George Floyd. We unanimously condemn the remorseless violence against members of our Black and Brown communities and join other campus departments in extending our support to eradicating systemic racism on our campus and in our community.

Inclusiveness is one of the Library’s eight core values. We highly value individuality and respect all contributions toward our common goals. We are committed to fighting ignorance and intolerance and embracing the power diversity brings to our space. The Max Chambers Library is dedicated to disrupting hate, bias, and racism whenever and wherever we encounter it, creating a space free of discrimination.

Activities sponsored by the Library provide a safe space for those with different opinions and viewpoints to share thoughts and ideas so intellectual discourse can happen in a manner conducive to learning. We recognize when all opinions and perspectives are recognized and included we are all better and stronger. We will continually strive to create a culture of inclusion.

The Max Chambers Library supports our campus community in seeking solutions as we work through our sadness and anger to develop actions that will bring about lasting change. We know the path is complicated but, we are clear, dismantling the very systems and policies that keep oppression alive is necessary and urgent. We can and will do better.

Staff of the Max Chambers Library
University of Central Oklahoma
Edmond, Oklahoma

 

Center for Excellence in Transformative Learning and Teaching

The Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning (CETTL) includes the 21st Century Pedagogy Institute (21CPI), Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR), and Educators’ Leadership Academy (ELA). Collectively, we serve faculty and students at UCO and beyond.

In times that underscore the ongoing need to not just denounce racism but to be anti-racist, CETTL, 21CPI, STLR, and ELA commit to more than simply continuing what we do now, such as our ongoing work over the years like past development opportunities around race and sexual identities, and faculty-led book groups on titles like “White Fragility” and “Queer Teaching,” and our STLR work with Global & Cultural Competencies. (Please visit the Teaching and Administrative Support section of UCO’s Addressing Racial and Social Injustice page.) We further commit to accepting the challenge that we, UCO, and the nation must meet to bring justice and equity to our campus and our society for all Black people and People of Color as well as other marginalized and disenfranchised groups and individuals among our fellow colleagues and citizens.

Perhaps no other college or university is more strongly called to meet this challenge. Because UCO centers itself around Transformative Learning (TL), we must in these times follow its process, one that literally defines personal learning and growth as prompted by disorienting dilemmas that lead to critical self-reflection followed by perspective shifts that help learners change themselves and their conceptions to embrace new and better ways of being.

We’re a university. Learning is what we do. Past learning and growth to become less racist is part of who we are, but now we are challenged to learn more, to do more.

Protests across the nation are calling attention to what for many in the privileged class may be the disorienting dilemma that is our country’s current and long-standing failure to ensure equity in treatment for Black people and People of Color, LGBTQIA+, and other groups suffering unequal treatment. Among our fellow citizens and colleagues who suffer the inequitable treatment dilemma daily, there is always the dilemma of how to make a co-worker or a group or a nation listen, to understand, to change.

We commit to listen. We will work to understand, and we will change as a result of our critical reflection and with the help and guidance of colleagues. To that end, CETTL, 21CPI, STLR, ELA are initiating among ourselves TL-focused processes with the intent to improve ourselves to become better colleagues and models for others. We hope our journey will produce transformative realizations in service to adding to the broader solution so necessary right now.

This is in addition to the work we do daily to support diversity and inclusivity and in providing resources and learning opportunities to support the transformative realizations and the resulting behavior and mindset changes that others may seek.

Jeff King, Ed.D., Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning (CETTL)
Jody Horn, Ph.D., Director, 21st Century Pedagogy Institute (21 CPI)
Cary Williams, Director, Educators’ Leadership Academy (ELA)
Camille Farrell, M.Ed., Assistant Director, Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR)
Mark Walvoord, M.S., Assistant Director, Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR)
Brenton Wimmer, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Transformative Learning (TL) Assessment
Jon Hicks, Administrative Assistant III, CETTL

 

Department of Theatre Arts

RE: UCO Theatre Arts Response to Issues of Racial and Social Justice

The faculty, staff, and students of the University of Central Oklahoma Theatre Arts Department will not remain silent in the face of systemic racism plaguing our nation and the brutal killings of BIPOC community members. We stand with BIPOC communities in mourning, outrage, and solidarity. We unequivocally state ‘Black Lives Matter.’ We recognize change is necessary and long past due. We believe it is the responsibility of each of us to listen, learn, and take action.

As theatre artists, we stand poised at a precipice. Historically, our voices have been agents of change, and we fully commit to use that privilege responsibly for the betterment of our society. We will not produce or promote any theatrical narrative that supports inequality and injustice; we will seek out every opportunity to give a voice to unheard and/or marginalized communities through our work in the classroom, in performance, and beyond.

The UCO Theatre Arts Department does not tolerate racism in any form. We vow to stand with our community in the ongoing national struggle for justice. We are committed to actively addressing and dismantling white supremacy and racism in our community. We commit to the work of making our department, college, and university a safe, equitable, inclusive, and creative space for all. We respectfully join other colleges and universities across the nation in this effort.

Kato Buss, Ph.D.
Chairperson, Associate Professor
Department of Theatre Arts
College of Fine Arts and Design
University of Central Oklahoma

Emily Heugatter, M.F.A.
Professor, Program Coordinator
Department of Theatre Arts
College of Fine Arts and Design
University of Central Oklahoma

 

Department of English

The Department of English at the University of Central Oklahoma deplores the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, and it condemns the continuing, disproportionate, and frequently deadly physical, psychological, and socio-economic violence directed against Black people and People of Color across the country and in our own communities.

We support those who, through protest actions, call for change on the national, regional, and local levels in order to challenge—and, ultimately, to eliminate—the systemic racism, the unchecked abuse of institutional power, and the overt and covert discrimination that continue to make such tragedies not only possible but devastatingly frequent. We hear you. We stand with you. Black Lives Matter.

By sharing our skills and our resources, by reflecting critically on our teaching and community practices, and by challenging ourselves and our students to become agents of positive social change, we aspire to fulfill the challenge, articulated in the university’s mission statement, to contribute to the intellectual, cultural, economic, and social empowerment of marginalized and under-resourced communities.

The events of the past week have provided an occasion for thoughtful and painful reflection, informed by the insights and lived experiences of many members of our community, on our own institutional and departmental history and our failure, too often, to ensure a just, inclusive, equitable, antiracist, and empowering teaching, learning, and working environment for every member of our community. We commit ourselves to a process of meaningful growth and development that will enable all of our department’s students and faculty and staff to realize their full potential as creative, collaborative, and antiracist critical thinkers who seek and work for social justice.

In order to achieve this goal, our department is preparing to begin, in the fall semester of 2020, a year-long process of critical reflection, self-examination, strategic planning, and cultural change, focusing on inclusion, equity, diversity, and mutual support and empowerment. This process, supported by the College of Liberal Arts and the Division of Academic Affairs and informed by the work now taking place at the university level to develop a campus-wide inclusion and diversity strategic plan, will address every aspect of our shared work as a department and will take into account the aspirations, the personal and professional goals, and the lived experiences, both affirmative and traumatic, of the students, faculty, and staff who make up our departmental community.

This work will be challenging, and it will require careful listening in an environment in which every constituent’s voice, whether student, faculty, or staff, will be heard. The outcome of our shared effort, guided on an ongoing basis by expert facilitators from on and off campus, will only gradually become clear as all of us work together to build a vibrant, inclusive, responsive, and genuinely transformative academic community that uses antiracist teaching to resist and help to dismantle systemic racism.
Department of English, College of Liberal Arts

100 N. University Dr., Box 184 • Edmond, OK 73034 • Phone (405) 974-5500 • Fax (405) 974-3811