UNCW Faculty Senate leadership ‘heartened’ after discussions with university leaders about racial equality

UNCW Faculty Senate leadership ‘heartened’ after discussions with university leaders about racial equality
The Faculty Senate at UNCW says it is “heartened” after discussions with the university’s leaders as it looks to “improve campus life for black students, faculty, and staff as well as students, faculty and staff of color,” according to a statement released Wednesday morning. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Faculty Senate leadership at UNCW says it is “heartened” after discussions with the university’s leaders as it looks to “improve campus life for black students, faculty, and staff as well as students, faculty and staff of color,” according to a statement released Wednesday morning.

Recent comments from a UNCW professor as well as Chancellor Jose Sartarelli have raised questions about racial equality at the university.

During a meeting with the chancellor last week, a group of black student leaders asked that the university paint “Black Lives Matter” somewhere on campus. Sartarelli dismissed the idea, saying it would be “very difficult because all lives matter.” He later wrote that “the Black experience unequivocally must be the focus of efforts to increase the safety and well-being of our students and community.”

Leaders with the Faculty Senate met with the chancellor and UNCW General Counsel John Scherer earlier this week and said they were “heartened” by the ongoing discussions and planned initiatives.

“We will hold our administration and Chancellor accountable for the efforts and initiatives discussed,” the statement reads. “We want to see that they come to fruition while engaging a diverse set of voices.”

The Faculty Senate Steering Committee also stated that it has partnered with the leadership of the Staff Senate to form an ad hoc committee “to begin to address the racial injustices at UNCW, injustices that have had a long, unacceptable presence on our campus.”

“This committee will consider all areas under both Senates’ purviews, including committee structure, potential QEP topics, curriculum, and shared governance, to identify actions, resources, and funding to create an anti-racist campus and shift the culture of UNCW,” the statement reads. “Understanding that there is much to be done, we are ready to do the work and have begun efforts in this direction.”

Here is the statement in full:

We apologize for the continued communication during the summer months as we know this is traditionally a time to recharge. Unfortunately, this summer to date has not offered us this opportunity. We want to reassure you that we are working to build capacity, expand diversity and inclusion initiatives, and focus on concrete actions we can take as a Committee, as a Senate, and as a faculty to improve campus life for our Black students, faculty, and staff as well as students, faculty and staff of color at UNCW.

Earlier this week we met with Chancellor Sartarelli and General Counsel John Scherer. We are heartened by these ongoing discussions and the initiatives that were shared with us that are currently in the planning stage. We will hold our administration and Chancellor accountable for the efforts and initiatives discussed. We want to see that they come to fruition while engaging a diverse set of voices.

In partnership with the leadership of Staff Senate, the Faculty Senate Steering Committee has formed an ad hoc committee to begin to address the racial injustices at UNCW, injustices that have had a long, unacceptable presence on our campus. This committee will consider all areas under both Senates’ purviews, including committee structure, potential QEP topics, curriculum, and shared governance, to identify actions, resources, and funding to create an anti-racist campus and shift the culture of UNCW. Understanding that there is much to be done, we are ready to do the work and have begun efforts in this direction.

We wish we could be in the room with our students and colleagues to discuss, organize, and take action. Although we may be physically absent from campus, we will continue to engage in discussions with faculty constituents, administrators, and staff counterparts. We encourage every faculty member to reach out to your department’s senators or to a member of the Steering Committee with questions and concerns. We have heard from many of you, and we welcome your input as we continue our work during the summer. Let’s work together to make UNCW a better place.

We look forward to updating you on our progress.

Sincerely,

Nathan Grove, Chemistry and Biochemistry (President)

Jeanne Persuit, Communication Studies (Vice President)

Carol Pilgrim, Psychology (Secretary)

Steve Pullum, Communication Studies (Parliamentarian)

Kristin Bolton, Social Work (Elected Member)

Jason Fleming, Randall Library (Elected Member)

April Matthias, Nursing (Elected Member)

Eleni Pappamihiel, Instructional Technology, Foundations, and Secondary Education (Elected Member)

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