Zimmerman appointed to university racism and social injustice committee

Date

10/15/20

Professor Steve Zimmerman has been appointed to the Teaching and Scholarship working group as part of the university’s call to action to address racism and social injustice.

It’s one of four working groups and a Steering Committee that have been charged with identifying steps to create a campus free of structural and system racism and bias. The other working groups are Diversity and a Culture of Inclusion; Public Safety, Policing, and the Justice System; and Community Action and Public Engagement.

In July, Chancellor Robert J. Jones announced a Call to Action "to focus the vast and unmatched intellectual and scholarly talent of this 21st century land-grant university on finding new solutions" to issues of systemic racism and generationally embedded racial disparity. Led by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, this Call to Action initiative is charged with laying out a framework to make this transformation and establish a series of working groups charged with taking concrete steps forward to dismantle systemic racism and injustice that are both measurable and accountable by the end of the coming academic year.

As part of this Call to Action, Jones announced a Steering Committee and Working Groups in a mass mail in late September. Jones said the Steering Committee’s goal is to place the university's institutional values of diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of every aspect of what this institution does.

“We will not generate another list of what should change. Instead we will develop the frameworks, the concrete steps that we will take, the tangible goals that we will meet, and the barriers we will remove to create the foundation for lasting, positive systemic change throughout the University of Illinois,” he said.

A final report from the steering committee is due by June 1, 2021. The Teaching and Scholarship working group, which includes Zimmerman, has been charged with the following tasks.

  • Develop a plan of innovative curricular initiatives, investments, and commitments that address structural racism and social injustice in ways that reach across all colleges, disciplines, and majors. This plan should include, but is not limited to, building the continuity and structures necessary to ensure that the U.S. Minorities General Education requirement significantly impacts every student’s understanding of racial equity in the U.S.
  • Review issues of equity in the recruitment and retention practices that serve marginalized and underrepresented students and current barriers to graduation. Please consider both the support for individual student as well as the institutional allocation of resources and funding for programs and initiatives that currently exist. Recommend strategies that we can implement that will allow us to fully deliver on the promise to access to high quality education.
  • Re-think the promotion and tenure process to establish and implement new models for faculty recruitment and retention Identify how the university can structure reward systems that support and encourage scholarship pertaining to diverse communities, including the valuing of community-based scholarship.

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