From the Dean
Taking Action on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
As we continue to grapple with the economic, social, and health impacts from COVID-19, the depth of our pre-existing racial and ethnic inequalities has come into sharp focus. Dramatically, our history and the present have collided, causing our nation much damage. Now it is our responsibility and great privilege as educators to lead in this moment of racial reckoning.
To be clear, our work to stand against inequity and injustice is not new. Many of us were working tirelessly before the virus arrived and protesters took to the streets for justice. But these recent events have reminded us that we must redouble efforts to animate our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, in BCLA, at LMU, and beyond.
In an earlier period, historically underrepresented students throughout the nation, in solidarity with third world liberation movements, struggled to create academic units devoted to the intellectual work necessary for social changes. LMU has a long and established dedication to racial and ethnic justice and its implications for faculty and curriculum. The university houses one of the oldest Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies programs in the nation, as well as vibrant African American Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies departments. While these departments do compelling and vital work, they cannot do it alone.
Realizing that diversity in the faculty and in the curriculum prepares students more fully to be people for others and engage challenging and urgent social questions, BCLA created a Diversity/Inclusion Task Force in spring 2018. Through a deliberative process, which included focus groups, College leadership and College-wide discussions, supported by an OIA Inclusive Excellence Grant, the group developed a strategic plan that was endorsed by the College Council in May 2019. The group continues to work on concrete metrics and outcomes, as well as the BCLA Diversity/Inclusion Implementation Table, which was endorsed by the College Council in February 2020.
As the largest academic unit in a mission-driven institution, BCLA has a responsibility to demonstrate leadership in diversity and equitable inclusion emerging from our liberal arts and Ignatian core values. I am proud to see that BCLA professors and students are playing notable roles on almost every faculty and student committee related to building equity and belonging at LMU. Following on BCLA’s extensive and successful Diversity/Inclusion strategic planning process, and to guide this essential work, I appointed Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson, Professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, as Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Additionally, BCLA Professor Cheryl Grills and Associate Dean Brad Stone serve as members of the Presidential Black Leadership Advisory Council.
To date, many BCLA Departments have posted statements of support and solidarity with people of color and marginalized communities. Members of our faculty are drawing on their own disciplinary perspectives, and embracing more inclusive pedagogies, to teach about race, bias, and social justice. They are also strengthening bridges across disciplines to cultivate students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that they may graduate ready to address entrenched problems from multiple approaches.
Our goal is to work diligently for improvement and to create many opportunities for us as a community of faculty, students, staff, and alumni to gather and reflect, to learn and teach, and to process and console. We know that what starts as challenging dialogue can ultimately lead to concrete action, meaningful transformations, and sustained change. We are the right ones for this job and for this moment. Let us take our place in history.
Robbin D. Crabtree
Dean, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts