President's Message: Toward a More Inclusive USF Community

5/23/2016

With this past weekend's wonderful commencement ceremonies we have come to the close of another academic year, and are looking forward to the priorities of 2016–17 and beyond — including our approach to diversity and inclusion.

The University of San Francisco is a learning community committed to diversity. At USF, students from around the globe learn from each other, inside and outside the classroom. This variety of perspectives, experiences, and traditions offers a rich learning opportunity, one that is especially important in an increasingly interconnected world.

U.S. News and World Report regularly names USF one of the nation's most diverse universities in its annual ratings. In 2015, the magazine ranked USF eighth for undergraduate ethnic diversity among 280 national universities. Alumni and prospective students consider this diversity to be one of the university's two greatest strengths, matched only by its San Francisco location, a university survey found last year.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, undergraduates from USF's Black Student Union. Based on our conversations, it became clear to me that there is more the university can do, and should do, to create the inclusive community we strive to be.

First, the University of San Francisco recommits itself to achieving even greater ethnic and gender diversity across the university, placing special emphasis on increasing the number of qualified candidates of color. Demand for these applicants far exceeds supply, so we must be intentional in our efforts.

We discussed how subtle things that each of us say or do can unintentionally disparage others and reinforce stereotypes. Often, we're not even aware of these microaggressions. To help our community understand, avoid, and confront them, USF will now require training for all employees. This is in addition to training already required to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

USF will also debut an initiative to increase awareness and understanding of our African American students, and will open an African American experience floor in one of our residence halls. Students of all races are encouraged to apply.

USF's ultimate goal is to create a campus culture that respects the dignity of every individual. To make sure we're doing that, USF will conduct a campus climate survey of faculty, staff, and students starting this fall. We'll compare results with those from the last survey five years ago, identify success and areas for improvement, and create important benchmarks as we move ahead.

The university has opportunities and obligations to address present day and historical inequities between African Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and whites, as well as between men and women, native-born and newcomers, domestic and international, adherents of different religions, and people of different sexual orientations and gender expressions.

USF's senior leaders and I are committed to fostering a genuinely inclusive community for all. Learn more about USF's diversity goals and the steps we are taking to meet them »

Sincerely,

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.