President Schill's Showcase Oregon Remarks

June 5, 2018

Good afternoon, I’m Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon. Welcome to Showcase Oregon. This celebration of the University of Oregon’s work to advance and sustain equity and inclusion on our campus happens every two years—and so much has happened to both activate, advance, and challenge our university’s work in this arena in two short years.

Our campus, state, country, and indeed the world, has been undergoing a revolution of sorts in how we perceive privilege, treat one another, and tackle hard issues such as racism, homophobia, misogyny, white nationalism, and more.

I know there are many of you in the room who have been fighting these battles for a lot longer than two years; some have been fighting for decades and generations to create a world in which every person is able to live their lives without bias and judgment based on the way they look, who they are, what they wear, who they love, how they express themselves, or where they come from.

In fact, the work on the IDEAL framework began about four years ago… about one year before I arrived on campus. Even though I did not begin the process I am proud that I made it a priority and accelerated this important work in ways that moved it beyond planning to the current phase of implementation. Aspects of the implementation process were prompted and informed by a number of national and international issues, but the foundation for this work made our response to these issues much more effective.

For example, over the last two years as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum our campus challenged itself to address the demands of the Black Student Task Force. Our country faced the end of DACA and challenges to Dreamers’ ability to work and gain an education in this country. Our campus has benefitted by the work of the Latino Strategies Group in designing a training that is helping to institutionalize resources and support on our campus for Dreamers.  

White Nationalists and the Antifa brought violence to American streets and some college campuses, the Me Too movement empowered women to stand up to their harassers and for people to finally listen and believe those who’ve been beating these drums for decades. Our understanding of gender expression and the many forms in which we see ourselves as people and live authentic lives took leaps forward.

And each of these movements and changes had impacts here at the University of Oregon. Indeed, we have been reworking our processes and policies to ensure that we have the best strategies in place for addressing these issues. And we are celebrating an important milestone today at this Showcase.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are vitally important at our university and its importance grows each year as our student body and our state become more diverse. It is important for the quality of the education and research we impart and produce.

Under the direction of Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh and her team of colleagues in DEI, as well as the leadership of the schools, colleges, and administrative units, we are moving from planning into the “activation stage” through the our Diversity Action Plans.  

Units all across campus have created plans to help make the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion a reality on our campus. Additionally, five working groups are gathering to study and make recommendations about how to provide campus-level support for climate surveys, implicit bias, onboarding, recruitment, and leadership succession plans for my review and consideration.

I invite you to visit their posters and provide feedback that can be included in the final recommendation. We also have a host of panels, known as DAP-talks, on issues that are important to our success and we are grateful to the presenters and facilitators from campus and beyond who are leading this aspect of our engagement.

As part of our DAP-talks, I encourage you to visit with our newly elected ASUO officers and other students to learn about next year’s work, as the ASUO can be an important leader and partner in these efforts.  

I invite each of you to review the posters, attend DAP-talks, and at the end of the day, celebrate the successes of our campus with the awards ceremony.

Thank you, Yvette and to the entire staff of the Division of Equity and Inclusion, and all who helped make this event a reality. We are also very grateful to scholars and practitioners from University of California at Irvine, Dr. Douglas Haynes and former PDCC member Dante James and Christina James, of the Gemini Group, who are infusing our day with latest information on best practices and also providing individual consultation for all of the DAPs. This is one day, but we must make it a continued, focused priority every day.

Thank you for being here and for your work to advance this critical work. Enjoy Showcase Oregon!