Statements from the Chief Diversity Officer

San Diego State University Expands Efforts to Support the Black Community with Ten Point Plan

Dear Colleagues,

I am excited to be writing to you to share another advancement at SDSU. Today, our campus leadership announced the implementation of a TEN POINT Plan to enhance our support for Black students, faculty, and staff. This plan is announced on Juneteenth and in the wake of the racial unrest.

I am sending to you for two reasons. First, it may serve as a framework to think about what your institutions can do to improve the lives and conditions of Black peoples. Second, engaging in these efforts takes courageous leadership. I am particularly proud of the bold and equity-minded leadership of our President. 

In solidarity,

J. Luke Wood

Dear SDSU Community,

On the heels of the University Senate’s historic resolution to support sweeping improvements in the ways we educate and train those going into the field of criminal justice, we are writing to share and affirm additional actions. The social movements of today, demanding better treatment for members of the Black community and other communities also suffering, are not time bound. We have been listening.

We, as academic leaders, are committed to continued conversations and meaningful actions. The Provost, VP of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity, and academic deans will meet with faculty, staff and students to hear more about their concerns so that we can meaningfully respond in support of our diverse communities. We are also committed to the following actions:

  1. A cluster hire of five tenure-track faculty members with a demonstrated record of success in research, teaching and/or service with Black populations. All searches will be conducted before Summer 2021. Departments where replacement hires are currently needed and that have been exempted from our hiring chill will be prioritized.

  2. Working with local artists that specialize in Black culture, Arts Alive will design and facilitate three placemaking projects (such as murals, sculptures, paintings, or other media) across the university campuses that address the histories and contributions of Black peoples and communities. The SDSU Library will expand and strengthen an archive focused on Black histories, life, and culture.

  3. All college deans will ensure that college diversity plans are publicly shared (after they are formally approved in November), with goals posted on websites for stronger public visibility and accountability.

  4. All college deans will ensure that as part of the departmental diversity planning process, each department will review existing coursework and/or develop new curricula to advance racial and social justice, anti-racism, and cultural diversity across the curriculum.

  5. Career Services will expand the Knowledge Exchange Empowerment Program, which focuses on career readiness for students who identify or are interested in issues facing African Americans in business/industry.

  6. Establish a Presidential Task Force to develop “Principles of Community” that articulate our community’s commitment to access, equity, inclusion, and diversity. This task force will begin in September 2020 with a recommendation for principles submitted to the University Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee for review in January 2021.

  7. The Center for Inclusive Excellence will facilitate semester-long faculty learning communities, helping faculty review their curriculum and infusing allyship and anti-racism into the classroom.

  8. The Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity will organize an annual Symposium on Black Lives and Minds (modeled on the Black Intersections Conference) to provide a platform for Black students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to present scholarship, display their work, share ideas and make connections. This symposium will begin in Spring of 2021.

  9. The Professors of Equity will offer multiple opportunities for professional learning on anti-Blackness and promoting racial justice, including workshops on unpacking whiteness, racism in education, racial battle fatigue, and equity-minded hiring.

  10. The VP for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity will hold town halls at least twice a semester to report on progress of all of these initiatives, and to provide a forum for continuing conversations around institutional and structural racism. These town halls will begin in August with the purpose of these town halls being to ensure transparency and accountability for the implementation of the above efforts.

In addition, we look forward to announcing the finalized strategic plan next week. This plan embraces and expands our longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For our individual faculty and staff colleagues, there are many more conversations, actions, and resources available to support you, and which you may want to engage in. We encourage you to review the new Allyship for the African American Community webpage and commit to taking at least one of the actions listed there.

Many of our students of color, as well as allies and others in our community, have been heavily impacted by the ongoing social unrest in our communities. All of these stressors impact our campus community.

We ask you to continue to connect with our students, and each other, with compassion, respect, empathy and grace.

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President

Salvador Hector Ochoa, Ph.D.
SDSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

J. Luke Wood, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity

Glen McClish, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Letters

Y. Barry Chung, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Education

Eugene Olevsky, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Engineering

Bruce Reinig, Ph.D.
The Thomas & Evelyn Page Dean (Interim) of the Fowler College of Business

Steven Hooker, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

Peggy Shannon, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Professional Studies & Fine Arts

Jeffrey Roberts, Ph.D.
Dean of College of Sciences

Gregorio Ponce, Ed.D.
Dean of SDSU Imperial Valley

Patrick McCarthy, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of SDSU Library

Radhika Seshan, Ph.D.
Dean of SDSU World Campus

June 2020

During these unusual times, it is more important than ever that we stay connected and lean on each other. We invite all members of our SDSU family to join an Employee Resource Group, connect through the Cultural CentersDDI Facebook page or DDI / ERG Facebook Group, and to take advantage of the resources in our Working and Teaching Remotely series. We also want to ensure all members of our community are protected so please use the Inclusive SDSU system to let us know of any incident related to bias, as well as positive incidents that serve to build a better SDSU. Together, I know we will not only weather this storm but emerge stronger as a community. 

In Solidarity,

J. Luke Wood
Chief Diversity Officer

To the SDSU community:

Protests are now occurring across the United States after the death of George Floyd. As with the case of Eric Garner, both men died pleading for the basic need that many of us take for granted – air. "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," were the last words uttered by both men.

Floyd, Garner and Breonna Taylor are in a long line of Black people slain by those in positions of authority. Their untimely deaths serve as a reminder that our society has long treated the lives and minds of certain communities as lesser than others. This is appalling and egregious, no matter who we are. As a father of three young Black children, I pray and strive every day of my life to create a world where my children will not experience the enduring challenges of racism. Unfortunately, nothing I can do can fully shield them from a world where fear for and disdain of Black bodies is normalized. 

At SDSU, we strive to foster an environment where every student can learn, grow and thrive. We do so with the aim of building a new generation of scholars and leaders who are more thoughtful, righteous and caring than prior ones. We each have the capacity to learn and to grow, and it is our individual responsibility to do so. In times like these, the importance of our commitments becomes even more clear. These times also, yet again, reveal to us the real significance of our values of diversity and inclusion. Moreover, it is in such moments that we are further reminded to translate these values beyond the written word and into our daily practice and relationships. In this spirit, we must continue to build a community that honors all peoples, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, ability or creed. 

Let us be mindful that there are many people within our community who are hurting right now and dismayed. The pervasive and recurrent nature of such events can have an emotional effect on all of us, leading to heightened anxiety, sleeplessness and feelings of hopelessness. We are a community. When one of us is affected – we are all affected. So please, take a moment to connect with one another, to embrace our shared humanity and to remind ourselves why the work we do is integral to a better world.

Respectfully,

J. Luke Wood 
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity (incoming)
Chief Diversity Officer
San Diego State University
May 2020