The External Affairs Subcommittee was given a charge to examine, assess, and make recommendations to measure and improve how effectively the University influences matters of race, culture, and faith in society and the world.
The subcommittee focused on the University’s role for participating in and influencing the conversation about race within academia, in the media, with the Church, and with community and civic institutions (government). Members reviewed available data on faculty and graduate student diversity, data that indicated racial disparities in how residents of Washington, D.C., experience daily life; and data on how universities have been responding to race since spring 2020. They also considered Church statements and teaching on racism, diversity, and culture, and current engagement with the local community through the University.
A full 82 percent of universities, such as ÃÛÌÒÉç, have engaged in external communications about race since June 2020, according to Education Advisory Board, while 39 percent have made long-term commitments such as anti-racism training, recruitment and retention changes, provision of campus-based resources, and improved partnerships with local and regional communities.
Faculty data indicates that ÃÛÌÒÉç’s full- time faculty is three percent Black compared to six percent reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (2019). ÃÛÌÒÉç full-time faculty is five percent Hispanic/Latino faculty members versus six percent nationally.
The data shifts at the graduate student level, which the subcommittee notes is important since graduate students are the path to faculty recruitment. Twelve percent of ÃÛÌÒÉç graduate students are Black versus 13.5 percent nationally, while seven percent are Hispanic/Latino versus 9.2 percent nationally.
A survey of 36 alumni provided insight into their experience at the University. Respondents were asked how race was handled at the University, and their perception of whether persons of color had an overall positive experience. Results were mixed. A majority noted that their experience at ÃÛÌÒÉç inspired them in a positive way to “think more deeply or differently” about issues of race. A number of respondents called the University to a deeper commitment to racial equality and understanding, with several recommending this occur through the context of Catholic values and teaching.
One respondent wrote, “Most of the time they [incidents of racism] are the small things that go unnoticed.” Another, who had been an instructor, wrote, “Figuring out the best ways to help [Black and minority students] learn inspired me to think more deeply about questions concerning race, privilege, and how those experiences are often tied to a challenging socioeconomic background or being a first-generation college student.”
Create the Sister Thea Bowman Center for Racial Justice and Human Dignity, with a focus on issues related to racial justice and human dignity through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching and the Catholic response to racism and injustice. The center would house the chief diversity officer, and have visiting faculty, symposiums, resources, and support for dioceses in the area of racial justice and engagement with the local community on issues of race, justice, and civic engagement.
Work with the government relations liaison to build relationships and pursue funding opportunities for initiatives that seek to promote racial equality.
Promote racial equality in Brookland through work with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce in the National Catholic School of Social Service.
Obtain Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation from the U.S. Department of Education.
Develop a ÃÛÌÒÉç statement on race.
Create a website that would clearly communicate the University’s commitment, goals, action steps, and progress, serving as a first step to help others identify ÃÛÌÒÉç as a school committed to diversity.
Promote original scholarship on race, offering opportunities to be in the conversation at conferences, through books and articles, and as experts in the media.
Hold visible projects and initiatives addressing racism to increase conversation and awareness, such as an exchange program with an Historically Black College or University, a visiting scholar or faculty chair, podcast, high-profile symposium, or a moment of atonement.
Utilize the structures already in place (advisory neighborhood commissions, wards, Council of the District of Columbia) to listen, learn, collect data, and share ideas for intentional, external outreach.
Deepen the partnership, and opportunities for communication, with leaders of the city’s advisory neighborhood commissions and further prioritize the “town and gown” relationship by telegraphing University interests and respecting and supporting those of local communities.
Further establish a multi-faceted collaboration with leaders of each ward, and then the Council of the District of Columbia.
Pursue opportunities to collaborate with local business officials that reach beyond usual boundaries of partnership.
Create a series of local engagement or “community dialogue” events focused on matters of race. Invite local citizens and leaders to campus to participate in and/or lead the discussions.
Acknowledge and take actions based on the University’s role as a leader in Catholic higher education.
Develop programs that other Catholic institutions will be inspired to model.
Advance recruitment of faculty from underrepresented communities including position(s) focused on ethnic and multicultural studies and positions that build upon intellectual leadership on topics of race.
Advance recruitment of graduate students from underrepresented communities with increased funding for scholarships and expanded teaching opportunities, as well as the creation of assistantships, internships, post-doctoral fellowships, grants, and awards that encourage students of color.