August 27, 2020
Dear OU Community,
At every possible opportunity, I have emphasized that our University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion strikes at the heart of who we are as individuals and who we want to be as the OU family. Just as we’ve seen across the country, at OU we’ve also been shaken by threats to our community in the form of racism and intolerance. All across America and well beyond, our reckoning with systemic injustice marches on.
In our University community, we’ve spent the past few years taking an honest look at who we are and what we stand for. With our sights set on a future that’s full of promise and possibilities, one thing is clear: We simply cannot reach our greatest potential unless excellence in diversity, equity, and inclusion is a top priority.
To support our goal of enacting fundamental change on our campuses, we are launching a new diversity training program, with participation mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff on all three OU campuses. It is interactive and designed to present a meaningful learning experience, where users’ choices to various scenarios impact the outcome of the narrative. The online training program – the plans for which we shared earlier this year – will roll out in phases to different constituencies next week. You will receive an email with further information in the coming days.
We are incredibly grateful to Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, along with her entire office and the many individuals across the University, for bringing this idea to fruition.
This training is just one component of our deliberate, multi-year plan to emerge as an institution where all members feel equally respected, valued, and welcomed. These efforts aren’t the responsibility of one community or just marginalized groups – it’s up to all of us to reach across the lines of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, orientation, ability, thought, and more – to move forward together.
As we begin a new academic year under extraordinary circumstances, the events of recent months and days have put a spotlight on the importance of taking care of each other. There’s never been a better time to reflect, find common ground, and work hand in hand to create a more united OU.
Live On, University,
Joseph Harroz, Jr.