Championing Diversity
for Campus and Beyond
A UW-Madison Diversity Update | Edition 18  | June 26 , 2020
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” — James Baldwin
Dear Colleagues,
When I think about the countless ways to describe the times in which we’re living, there’s one word I believe best sums up this moment in history – prevail. There is broad consensus that we need to address the troubling inequitable path our nation seems stuck on and directly confront the denial of centuries of racial injustice that can no longer be tolerated. 
 
We now have drawn the collective conclusion that one of the most basic human functions, the ability to breathe and therefore exist, should not be determined by the color of one’s skin - or more specifically being Black in America. This affirmation seems obvious and long overdue and I’m encouraged by the fact that nothing short of seismic change will suffice in order to move forward. Xenophobic and hateful actions targeting our Pan-Asian brothers and sisters based on perceived race and nationality are also at a tipping point – they too have gone on for too long.
 
I’m heartened by the way people of all walks of life are stepping up to play their part in dismantling structural racism and inequality. There was a tremendous community response to supporting our Pan-Asian community members dealing with the aftermath of racial animus related to COVID-19 and the senseless killing of George Floyd  and other Black Americans doing nothing more than living in America. 
 
I’m reminded of that Sam Cooke song that talks about “A Change is Gonna Come,” – well guess what…it’s here. With the recent Supreme Court decision affirming workplace protections for all gender and sexual orientations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many of us exhaled in collective relief. We exhaled again when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid to eliminate DACA protections for Dreamers. Change is clearly upon us. I whole-heartedly believe the kind of change required of our nation must include genuine partnerships, true consensus-building, and sustained commitment to social justice by everyone on this planet. So, my question is, what are YOU going to do/doing to help bring about that change?
For starters, I encourage you to join us in the discussion to begin defining how to move forward. The DDEEA will host a virtual discussion, Committed to Change: A Call to Action, Understanding How Racism Shows Up and Impacts Students and Alumni Engagement on July 8 from 10 a.m. to noon. Three panels featuring a broad cross-section of alumni, experts on racism, campus and community leaders and elected officials will dissect the history and roots of racism. Panelists will share their personal insights into how racism shows up in predominantly white organizations and recommend ways our campus and broader community can confront the legacies of racism with empathy, intention and justice. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions, and most importantly, share their commitment to change based on recommendations made during the discussion. Register today.
 
None of the above items would be possible without the backdrop of an institution with the kind of depth and breadth of research like UW-Madison. We have put together a comprehensive 'Smart Restart' reopening plan for this fall to preserve the health and safety during the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans are in motion to safely resume education and research, as well as our traditional events like Student SOAR, welcoming new faculty, and a timely Diversity Forum featuring Robin DiAngelo , author of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.   
 
As we look back on this past spring, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our celebration of the Class of 2020 and the preparation for all returning students and the incoming class of 2024.Our PEOPLE Program launched  its virtual precollege summer training for high school students and rising first-year College Scholars with online classes and skill development sessions.
 
If nothing else, we’re demonstrating what it means to prevail. So the irony is not lost on me as I close this monthly newsletter sharing that I’ll be moving on from UW-Madison to become the executive vice chancellor and provost at the  University of North Carolina School of the Arts , one of the nation’s top-ranked performing arts conservatories .   I also want to share the amazing news that Assistant Vice Provost Dr. Sherri Charleston has been named chief diversity and inclusion officer at Harvard University! Lastly, I am equally thrilled to share that Assistant Vice Provost, Dr. Cheryl Gittens, will step into the role of interim deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. 
 
I have been a part of this community for nearly 17 years – and leaving behind the many friendships I’ve formed over the years is bittersweet. Despite these major changes in diversity leadership on our campus – I feel confident that UW will prevail and that we can emerge as a national leader for change that is so desperately needed in higher education. I know that’s a bold statement – and I know we set the table for it to happen – now it’s up to the entire community to make it happen.
 
To every colleague, friend, ally and supportive partner I’ve had the honor to meet and collaborate with along the way, I’m grateful for your presence in my life and it will be these experiences that I will cherish most as I continue my journey of personal discovery and professional growth. I only hope I had as profound an impact on you as you have on me. 
In community,
Patrick J. Sims 
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion
Elzie Higginbottom Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer 
Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement 
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Passing the Torch: CeO Retirements
Campus News and Announcements
Nominations sought for 2020 OWOC Awards
 
Nominations for the 2020 Outstanding Women of Color Awards are now being solicited and welcome. Nominations are due Monday, Sept. 14.
Supporting Our Campus during COVID Crisis

More than 200 campus and community participants joined our recent virtual townhall:
COVID-19: Supporting our Pan-Asian Communities in this Time of Crisis. 
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Eric Wilcots is new
Letters & Science Dean

Wilcots has been serving as interim dean of the college since August, when he succeeded John Karl Scholz, who became the university’s provost.