Earlier this year, we asked faculty, staff and students a series of important questions about how welcome and supported they feel at UCF to help inform how we can build a more inclusive community together.

Your responses were powerful, and I appreciate everyone who took the time to share your thoughts and experiences through our Campus Climate Survey. I encourage you to look through the survey results posted on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website to see if they match your own experiences and consider where and how we must be better.

These surveys were administered in February and March, clearly capturing the voices of a small population of our campus. Much has changed since then. The pandemic has ravaged the globe, and thousands have joined forces to march against racism, brutality and bigotry.

Like the cries for greater equality ringing across the country, our climate survey also found discrepancies in how different groups perceive they are treated at UCF, concerns that their contributions are not being recognized and a lack of transparency. These findings are similar to what I saw while working on inclusive excellence for Faculty Excellence and hosting faculty focus groups last year on the same topic, as well as the results of our last COACHE survey among faculty.

Many of us have spoken out about the discrimination we have suffered in our lives as we continue to encourage our friends, family and colleagues to be actively anti-racist in their words and actions. We carry these experiences with us everywhere we go, in the workplace, our interactions with others and how we share our values.

Join Our Conversations

I will be hosting a series of Campus Climate Conversations, starting next week, so we can discuss these survey results together and elevate more voices who either did not participate in the survey or have additional experiences they would like to share. We want and need to hear from you.

These conversations will help inform the university’s action plan for equity, inclusion and diversity, which President Cartwright announced earlier this summer. The plan will involve more training and campus support, more inclusive search committee practices and hiring efforts, and more resources dedicated to make sure we deliver on these promises.

These virtual conversations will take place on the following days:

Our collective understanding of inclusion requires us to be malleable as new challenges force us all to take a closer look at the problems ahead and encourage more dialogue and new solutions. We all need to be listened to and learned from.

As the late moral leader John Lewis wrote shortly before his death, “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”

At UCF, we are standing up — and standing together — to make sure that love and inclusion help us see the very best in each other to build a better university and future.

Be well and stay safe.