Championing Diversity
for Campus and Beyond
A UW-Madison Diversity Update | Edition 22 | May 25, 2021
"Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise." - Michelle Obama
Dear Colleagues,
Spring Commencement 2021 is an especially sweet victory. The term 'commencement' has a broad and deep meaning within our society and shared history. The world has changed so much in the past year, but it feels as if we’re emerging from a chrysalis.
More than 350 amazing and resilient scholars from our Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement programs became Badger alumni on May 8. We congratulate our graduates on achieving one of life’s major milestones on their way to greater and higher goals. They met this goal by diligent progression; class by class, exam by exam to earn an undergraduate degree. This month we celebrated as a DDEEA family and as a campus emerging from isolation with Badger alumni and Broadway star André De Shields, a 1970 graduate of UW and a Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Obie award winner.
Both graduation and commencement represent the manifestation of key life lessons for us all. The pattern of planning, doing the work, and growth is a lifelong process toward realizing our goals and purpose. Graduation is symbolic of an end, but commencement can be viewed as a new beginning. 
Commencement also applies to the way forward for our society and our work in diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The work will begin with solidifying partnerships with those who are inevitably invested in UW-Madison – students and young alumni – including a record-setting incoming freshman class for the PEOPLE scholarship program. Seventy-five percent of the rising 2021 cohort precollege pipeline members have been admitted to the university; an all-time high of 109 new PEOPLE College Scholars. 

Our sister precollege program, the Information Technology Academy (ITA), is also celebrating a banner fall 2021 admission year. Overall, 38 of 48 ITA high school seniors from Madison, Lac du Flambeau and Oneida were admitted and 30 are now coming to UW-Madison as ITA college scholars. 

Helping us to improve our campus and the experience of learning and living at UW-Madison, the newly established Diversity and Inclusion Student Advisory Board will advise the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer on the impact of UW–Madison initiatives, efforts, and programs relevant to the underrepresented/minority (URM) student experience at UW–Madison. 

Congratulations goes out to PEOPLE Alum and former Black Student Union leader Marquise Mays for his short film aptly named “The Heartland,” which is playing as part of the Milwaukee Film Festival. The 24-minute documentary on friendships rooted in childhood experiences forge solidarity and a deep love for Milwaukee, while examining the contradiction of growing up black in one the America’s most segregated cities.

UW-Madison Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning John Zumbrunnen was praised for helping UW-Madison activate its intentions toward respecting diversity, in this case for Muslim students, by addressing the convergence of Ramadan fasting and final exams by the Wisconsin Muslim Journal.  Being inclusive is as simple as a reminder that UW’s 300-400 Muslim students may be abstaining from food and drink from dawn to sunset each day at the most stressful time of the semester.

Inclusion often works to address the exclusion of historically marginalized groups, but is part of a much broader approach to advancing equity. Thus, it is important to recognize the endless array of advocates who are pivotal to keeping our DEI focus. 

The University of Wisconsin System is preparing to honor nominees from all UW System campuses for the 2021 UW System P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People this fall. Among other accomplishments, Dr. P.B. Poorman carried out the research and laid the groundwork to bring in a nationally known climate assessment expert to conduct a system-wide evaluation of the experiences of diverse people throughout the UW System. This achievement epitomizes Dr. Poorman’s rich contributions to creating a welcoming university climate for all individuals.

Continuing to fully embrace the Wisconsin Idea, the UW–Madison Odyssey Project received a $300,000 grant from the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation to continue teaching college courses to incarcerated people in Wisconsin through the Odyssey Beyond Bars program. The funding of $100,000 over the next three years will fund a pilot project to offer introductory college courses in English to incarcerated students who are interested in post-secondary education and explore offering similar courses in math.

Lori Lopez, a UW-Madison Professor of Communication Arts and Director of the Asian American Studies Program, has been studying racism against Asian Americans for her entire career. Lopez, along with Lisa Ho, a faculty associate in the Asian American Studies Program, and Erica Kanesaka Kalnay, a doctoral candidate in English, is getting national attention for reclaiming the narrative surrounding the March mass-shooting in Atlanta. The #AtlantaSyllabus: An Asian American Studies Perspective on Anti-Asian Violence in 2021 raises awareness of racism and violence toward Asian Americans and is designed to get us talking about how to stop it. Arranged in a 12-week structure, it’s not a class; it’s a framework for the public, a map to help interested individuals begin to grapple with these thorny issues.

Diversity, equity and inclusion work can be uncomfortable. But like graduation, it’s the path to accomplishments like the November election of Francesca Hong to represent the 76th Assembly District—becoming the first Asian American to serve in the Wisconsin State Legislature. The daughter of Korean American immigrants, Hong is a mother, community organizer, and restaurateur.

Looking ahead, in addition to joining Madison’s annual celebration of June Pride Month, the UW-Madison campus will join the community in reestablishing the celebration of Juneteenth, a day commemorating when slaves in Texas were informed they were free via the Emancipation Proclamation which had been signed into law six months earlier in January 1865. The late, but sweet, news took months to reach what was the nation’s west edge at the time.  

In all, we see progress and possibilities. We have every reason to be poised to look forward and upward. It’s time to commence.
In Community,
Cheryl B. Gittens, Ed.D.
Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer 
Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement 
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reflecting on the Anniversary of
George Floyd's Murder
Campus News and Announcements
Raimey-Noland fund to bolster diversity efforts

UW–Madison, along with the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA), has launched the Raimey-Noland Campaign to provide resources for campus diversity sion (DEI) efforts and a new fund allowing the chancellor to support broad DEI initiatives. Read more. 
APIDA Leader Jeung at 2021 Diversity Forum
This year, Dr. Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University and co-founder of the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center, will provide the Day 1 keynote address at the 2021 UW–Madison Diversity Forum.
'Divine Nine’ project to honor Black Greeks

Although Black fraternity and sorority chapters have existed on the UW–Madison campus for many decades — the first were chartered here in 1946 — the organizations are sometimes little known to the larger campus. That’s about to change.