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Ensuring a better tomorrow

Like so many who have expressed their grief, outrage and despair in recent weeks, I am filled with a sense of urgency to take action to support our African American community. And while there’s no question that words are no longer enough to respond to injustice in our country, I am reassured by President Fuchs’ leadership to quickly set the tone for our university, and I share the sentiments in his video message condemning acts of violence committed in racism and hatred.

I am heartened by the statements of the many members of our faculty and staff community that have followed, and I feel a deep sense of unity with those who have shared their personal stories of struggle. Below are a few of the UF voices for change that have emerged over the past week, along with links to their full statements. We thank them for their words and their commitment to take action, and we join them in their quest to ensure a better tomorrow.​

Jodi D. Gentry, Vice President for Human Resources

“WE are all duty bound by the struggles our ancestors made to free this very campus we work on, and the city we live in from their legacies in relationship to slave ownership, Jim Crow laws, lynching and all the many organized systems of racial oppression embedded in the foundation of our society; we are all duty bound to pick up our heavy and grieving selves and get to work. I reach out to you today as a black woman, a mother of three, and the Dean of the College of the Arts and say we must, urgently, right now, get to work on CHANGE.”
— Onye Ozuzu, Dean, College of the Arts

“As we grapple with the tide of divisiveness across our country and within our communities, we must stand together — not just in hope, but also with an intentionality to change the narrative of endemic racism. In this time of COVID-19, the term social distancing adds a connotation antithetical to what we should truly be embracing, which is our social connectedness.”
— Joseph A. Tyndall, Interim Dean, UF College of Medicin

“We need to support our peers, colleagues, neighbors, friends and even strangers who so often do not have a voice, feel unsafe, and even fear for their very lives and those of their loved ones. We need to reflect on our own actions and behaviors, make changes and demonstrate that we are better and stronger by taking action when we see injustice and inequity.”
— Julie A. Johnson, Dean, College of Pharmacy

“As we reflect on the events of the last few weeks, I call on all of us to explore how we can be more tolerant, more forgiving, more understanding and more compassionate towards those who are different from us — in whatever way. Even more important, we should boldly challenge the ignorant proponents of hate, prejudice, and injustice in our nation.”
— Chimay Anumba, Dean, College of Design, Construction and Planning

“Diversity, without a moral compass, will not save us from ourselves. To belong is to be seen for one’s full humanity and to be embraced and welcomed into a community as an equal. Without a full understanding of our university’s past, of those that sacrificed and were sacrificed in order to break the segregation wall that finally came down in 1958, we cannot move forward with the sense of urgency needed to build a truly inclusive educational experience and to educate graduates ready to lead an increasingly complex and diverse world grounded in justice.”
— Antonio Farias, Chief Diversity Office

“At CJC, we are also feeling the sting of attacks on our brethren journalists, as if silencing the messengers will make the ugliness go away. We object in the strongest terms to this treatment of members of the Fourth Estate and emphasize our belief that the role of journalists has never been more important than it is today.”
— Diane McFarlin, Dean, College of Journalism and Communications

“This will require continuous action. This will require honest, tough, often uncomfortable conversations. For many of us, that means taking the initiative in educating ourselves, listening to and believing in experiences that are different from our own. It means hearing the voices of our Black teammates, colleagues, neighbors and friends, for whom the best ideals of our nation often remain a promise unfulfilled.”
— Scott Stricklin, Athletic Director

“As many seek and fight for justice, we must all recognize that apathy is not an option. And it is vital we advocate for humanity, care for one another and continue important action to challenge such violence and injustice.”
— D’Andra Mull, Vice President for Student Affairs

“Until you’ve had someone spew hateful, racial slurs at you solely because of your skin tone, there is no way to comprehend what it means to be a black American. You just can’t imagine it. You can’t conjure up such a degrading feeling and experience it for yourself.”
— Mike Holloway, Head Coach, Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country

“We seek to educate the next generation that will promote and improve the rule of law, defend the Constitution, and protect the most vulnerable throughout our society.  Much work remains to be done.  Past generations have made progress, but last week reveals that future generations – our current and future students – will need to lead transformations of the rule of law with creativity and tenacity.”
— Laura Rosenbury, Dean – Levin College of Law

“Our leadership doesn’t come from a title or position, but from our actions and examples. We call upon the Warrington community to be leaders against racism and racial injustices – to support and listen to the voices of those who are unheard, to empower those who feel powerless, to demonstrate positive change, to reflect on and take responsibility for our actions and biases, to challenge the status quo, to advocate and care for one another and to recognize that silence is not an option.”
— John Kraft, Dean, Warrington College of Business

“Unless they are working hard against it, museums and cultural institutions reify the power structure of white privilege. Thus, we must own a responsibility to educate ourselves, listen to our communities, reflect on our activities and develop—and act on—meaningful plans to work towards justice.”
—  LeeAnne Chesterfield, Director, Harn Museum of Art

“Some of you may feel like there are too many emails, statements and messages about #BlackLivesMatter right now, but dear friends, there simply aren’t enough. We’re a nation undergoing an important transformation right now and that transformation and the agility of our democracy are hallmarks of this great nation.”
— Evangeline J. Tsibris Cummings, Assistant Provost and Director of UF Online

“Let’s not just make this a one-time or short-lived initiative, but rather one that we embrace and carry forward until there are no longer such systemic inequities and police brutality destroying people’s lives.”
—  Glenn Good, Dean—College of Education

“Around the country we are seeing expressions of frustration, fear and anger about injustice and inequity in our society.  We must listen to them even though the message may be shocking or painful.  Real change starts with real listening.”
— Cammy Abernathy, Dean, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

“Collectively, we unequivocally condemn the continued violence against Black individuals as well as others, regardless of ethnicity, faith, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  We join in the many vigorous calls for justice and change.”
— Henry T. Frierson, Associate Vice President and Dean, The Graduate School 

“We strongly condemn racism and societal inequities, and affirm our commitment to foster trust and inclusivity among our diverse college family, including our students, faculty, house officers, staff and alumni. We will continue to strive to eliminate disparities, while fostering and embracing a culturally sensitive, diverse and inclusive environment in which everyone feels valued, seen, heard and welcome.”
— Dana Zimmel, Interim Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine

“African-American students, faculty, and staff of our college, and their families, must too often live with the undercurrent of fear that arises from a history of violence that has struck down so many. Although we are right to all be proud of our collective accomplishments as an institution, we cannot be satisfied until that fear is vanquished in our community and across the nation. Supporting progress to that end must be a key mission of our institution and higher education.”
— David Richardson, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

“As scientists, we can take the lead on the development and evaluation of programs designed to redress disparities. Our research can form the basis of knowledge regarding what does and does not work. However, having an empirical basis for change will not be enough. We will need to go further and put ourselves forward as advocates for change in the public arena.”
— Michael G. Perri, Dean, College of Public Health and Health Professions

“Our nation, our University, and our College are struggling to deal with the tragic killings of George Floyd, David McAtee, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others from the African American community. Please know that our College vehemently rejects the forces responsible for these injustices. We stand against the racism, hate, and violence. And we reject those who promote such evils in our society.”
— Michael B. Reid, Dean, College of Health & Human Performance

“Alongside our commitment to protect diversity and preserve cultural heritage, we must increase the representation of minorities in the sciences and amplify their voices. We must equalize access to education and ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, without fear of bodily harm. We must curb the effects of climate change, pollution and other forms of environmental injustice, which disproportionately harm communities of color.”
— Florida Museum of Natural History

We recognize this cannot be a complete representation of all of those who have shared public messages over the past week. If you know of others we can add to our website, please email hrcommunications@hr.ufl.edu.

Published: June 10th, 2020

Category: News