University Forum Aims to Build Community and Understanding

University of Virginia students, faculty and staff members will get an opportunity to weigh in on a series of diversity and inclusion initiatives under consideration within UVA’s largest school.

The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is sponsoring a Dec. 1 forum to discuss progress and invite feedback from the University community on a series of proposals that faculty leaders began crafting this spring with the encouragement of Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom.

The forum builds on the April 24 “Dialogue on Community,” a pan-University event co-sponsored by Arts & Sciences and Sustained Dialogue, a student group that brings students together to discuss important questions affecting the UVA student body, including issues of race and other topics related to conflict or current events. The forum also will feature reports by the College’s Faculty Diversity Subcommittee and its Curriculum Planning Committee, both charged by Baucom to consider and provide recommendations for enhancing diversity and inclusion across Arts & Sciences.

“This commitment to diversity and inclusion must inform every aspect of the College and the Graduate School,” Baucom said. “Faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students worked through the spring and summer to plan this forum, and we want to hear from all segments of our academic community. Enhancing the diversity and inclusiveness of our entire community, our academic mission and the research and scholarship that we pursue is essential to broadening and deepening our perspectives, discoveries and horizons.”

With more than 50 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than two dozen graduate programs, Arts & Sciences is UVA’s largest school. It spans the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and its nearly 750 faculty members serve more than 10,000 undergraduate students and more than 1,300 graduate students.

English Professor Caroline Rody, who chaired the Faculty Diversity subcommittee formed this spring, said the panel’s report recommends urgent and extensive measures to address the lack of faculty diversity at UVA.

“I’m glad that the Diversity Forum will enable the wider UVA community to engage in exchange about an issue of critical concern for public debate at this moment, as well as for the University’s future,” Rody said. 

The forum, scheduled to run from noon to 5 p.m. in Newcomb Hall, will feature table discussions of those efforts, as well as a presentation by students involved in creating this spring’s “Toward a Better University” report and a talk by Kathleen Wong (Lau), a national leader in work on issues of diversity in higher education and director of the University of Oklahoma’s Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies.

Black Student Alliance President Aryn Frazier was among the student leaders who participated in the event’s planning.

We had many discussions last spring in which the Diversity Forum was brought up as a way to hopefully bring together students, faculty and staff so that we could have the conversations together that so many people were having separately,” said Frazier, a third-year student in the College and a Jefferson Scholar. “This is important, because we need to have some common understanding. If we don’t at least know where each other is coming from, then it will be most impossible to move forward. And moving forward on these issues is something we’ve got to do.”

Arts & Sciences students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the A&S Diversity Forum by registering online. Other members of the University community may participate as well, pending registration availability.

Media Contact

Lorenzo Perez

Senior Writer, Office of the Dean College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences