Introducing ADEI and Campus Climate Next Steps

Dear Colleagues:

I am delighted to announce the reenvisioned DECO with its new name, the office of Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI; pronounced Adé). The title and consequent charge and activities of ADEI have emerged through interviews, conversations, and community listening sessions with staff, faculty, and students. The office’s focus reflects our shared commitment to reckon with and actively address systems of inequity, especially racism. I am deeply grateful to all who participated and to Senior Vice Provost Pamela Balls Organista for synthesizing our community’s perspectives and leveraging our collective insights to shape ADEI.

ADEI will partner with the schools, the college, Student Life, and other university stakeholders to shape equitable structures, systems, and policies at USF and to promote an inclusive and equitable climate that embraces our diverse identities. ADEI will strive to empower university constituents with a critical understanding of antiracism and intersectional oppression, cultural and religious diversity, and gender and sexual diversity. It will help build our community’s capacity to engage in self-reflection, humanizing dialogue, and intervention through workshops, training, symposia, and programming.

The search for ADEI leadership will kick off soon. I invite those of you who wish to serve on the search committee, which will include faculty, staff, and students, to submit your nominations or self-nominations. Because there is important work to be done in the meantime, we have enlisted the assistance of The BIPOC Project, led by Fiona Kanagasingam, in the launch of ADEI. Fiona has close to 20 years of professional experience in program strategy and implementation, organizational development, and working with leadership teams and various constituent groups to advance equity and racial justice transformations in the nonprofit, public, education, and private sectors.

Fiona and her team will be available on an interim basis to assist in three primary areas: engagement with members of the University Council on Diversity and Inclusion (UCDI) to develop ADEI’s charge, membership, and role as part of building our university-wide antiracism/DEI effort; partnering with deans to review priority areas for capacity-building and action at the school/college level, with particular attention to the Campus Climate Survey findings; and working with university members involved in the university’s strategic planning implementation to ensure infusion of ADEI into the work of implementing the plan.

I am particularly keen to return to the invaluable insights provided by the Campus Climate Survey administered in 2017 and 2018. Please visit the Campus Climate web page to review the university-wide and school/college Campus Climate findings reports. These reports have been uploaded, along with deans’ responses where available. I am grateful to the deans and their leadership teams for their thoughtful engagement with the survey findings. These action plans provide an important starting point for the vital task of making USF an equitable and extraordinary place to learn and work.

Please join me in giving special thanks to members of the UCDI for their helpful guidance regarding university-wide ADEI efforts and the many community members who have helped to shape ADEI. I look forward to supporting ADEI’s critical work and to working with you all to advance anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of the student and employee experience here at USF. This spirit of inclusivity has particular resonance this time of year as many members of the USF community gather to honor diverse faith-paths and traditions. Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Songkran, Holi, or simply pause to witness the miracle of spring blossoms, I hope that this season brings you much renewal and hope. 

Chinyere Oparah
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs