Announcement of Diversity Equity and Inclusion Leadership Group

April 5, 2023

Dear Gonzaga Community:

Evidence of persistent and widespread racial, ethnic, and cultural bias and discrimination against individuals and groups presents itself to us on a regular basis. This is far from a remote, “national” issue – from the activism of the Patriot Front on our campus last fall, to the windshield flyers encouraging a “White Revolution” in the West Central neighborhood last week, to bias incidents that continue to be reported on campus, we locally are constantly being reminded of racism’s prevalence.

At the same time, there is an active effort to halt DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) education, courses, and activities on college campuses in numerous states across our country. The motivations for limiting or closing down DEI efforts vary depending upon the jurisdiction, but it is hard not to conclude that – at least in some cases – there are active efforts to deny the very existence of racism and discrimination that lie at the root of such initiatives.

Gonzaga seeks to be a place of welcome and belonging for ALL students, regardless of race, color, ethnicity or culture – as well as sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, political party, veterans’ status, or disability – in line with our Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic Mission as well as recognized under federal and/or state law. We recognize that, as a diverse community of individuals who come from all over the country and many nations around the globe, the project of building a truly inclusive educational community of mutual support and acceptance is an ongoing project – an imperfect endeavor that constantly seeks to improve itself. We, the members of this university community, are committed to the support and success of everyone.

Over the course of the past 25+ years, since the original founding of Unity House (now known as Unity Multicultural Education Center, or UMEC) – and later the appointment of Dr. Raymond Reyes as Gonzaga’s first Chief Diversity Officer – Gonzaga has committed itself to becoming an increasingly more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place to learn, live, and work. Our Catholic and Jesuit educational mission – as well as our moral and legal obligations – compel us to create an environment that affords every individual the opportunity to equitably access our educational programs and services, and ideally to experience a feeling of true sense of identity and belonging within the university community. Numerous events in recent times remind us that our nation’s history is infused with racist attitudes, policies and behaviors, the realities of which we must continue to acknowledge, and the consequences of which we must engage, even as we strive to combat discrimination and work to more effectively prepare all of our students for the complex, diverse world into which they will go.

The work of colleagues across time and throughout the University has manifested itself in many different forms, ranging from the creation of DICE (the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Community and Equity in Student Affairs), to many years of participation in the Act Six program; from the creation of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in the Law School, to the development of a minor in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES). I have made an intentional effort to support increased diversity within the administration (including academic deans), to support DEI educational opportunities, and to encourage greater diversity in the hiring of faculty and staff. We are also in the process of building stronger ties with our Alumni of Color Affinity Group. And two years ago, I announced the appointment of Dr. Robin Kelley as our Chief Diversity Officer and designated the Office of Inclusive Excellence, she leads, as well as Dr. Kelley herself, a part of the senior leadership.

As we near the celebration of UMEC’s 25th anniversary, I want to again affirm the importance of our University commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and ask that each of us commit to engaging in and deepening our understanding and awareness of inclusive attitudes and practices in our work, and daily experiences.

To underscore the importance of our commitment to building a more inclusive campus environment, I have asked Dr. Kelley to create and activate a core group of administrative colleagues whose work in large part informs our institutional efforts to support students, faculty, and staff in matters relating to diversity, equity, and inclusive practices. Its purpose is to bring greater coordination, collaboration, and visibility to the many DEI initiatives and programs that exist and are operative in various areas. In addition, this group will play a critical role in shepherding and supporting the implementation of our Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan, which has been in development for over the past year. With gratitude for their willingness to serve, the inaugural members of this DEI Leadership Group will be:

  • Annmarie Caño, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
  • Yolanda Gallardo, Dean of the School of Education and Acting Dean, School of Leadership Studies
  • Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein, Associate Professor of Religious Studies & Jewish Chaplain, Office of Mission and Ministry
  • Kathleen Jeffs, Associate Provost for Assessment, Accreditation, and Programs
  • Ray Kliewer, Vice President for Human Resources
  • Ellen Maccarone, Acting Vice President for Mission Integration
  • Kent Porterfield, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
  • Jacob Rooksby, Dean of the School of Law
  • Dori Sonntag, Associate Vice President – Organizational Effectiveness, University Advancement
  • Devon Thomas, Senior Associate Athletic Director

I look forward to the invitations, opportunities, and outcomes this group will provide to our community in the coming months and years.

Sincerely yours,

Thayne M. McCulloh, D. Phil