University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank addressed campus diversity issues at a Faculty Senate meeting Monday, emphasizing that recent bias incidents would not be tolerated.
Thirty-three diversity-related incidents have occurred on the UW campus this semester alone. Blank said UW officials are currently investigating the cases, and that they will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
“We have had hate and bias incidents,” Blank said. “And I want to say this as unambiguously as I can — these are inexcusable.”
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Patrick Sims, UW chief diversity officer, said faculty members must do more both in and out of the classroom to ensure minority students feel comfortable and safe.
“We need everyone involved in this area of diversity inclusion,” Sims said.
The Office for Equity and Diversity, in collaboration with the Dean’s Office, is looking to establish more programs to help with diversity and inclusion on campus, Sims said. Both offices have been working toward formulating inclusion activities.
One of the main activities this semester was UW’s annual Spring Powwow. The Office for Equity and Diversity partnered with Wunk Sheek, a Native American student association, to host the event. Sims said attendance at the event rose from 3,000 last year to 7,000 this year, he said.
Sims said the Office for Equity and Diversity will hold its annual diversity forum Nov. 1, which will provide more opportunities for discussion on diversity and inclusion issues on campus.
Chancellor Blank also briefly fielded questions from faculty about an amendment to the UW System Board of Regents’ tenure policy that would place final decision making power on tenure issues with the Chancellor. The Board of Regents supports this policy.
Blank did not approve of the amendment. She said it would impact quality of tenure policies at UW and other UW System institutions.
“That policy leaves the decision in the hands of the Chancellor,” Blank said. “If we get to that point, we are no longer the quality university we can or want to be.”
Honoring distinguished faculty
Faculty Senate also honored recipients of the annual Hilldale Awards. These awards recognize distinguished contributions to teaching in various fields.
UW history professor Steve Stern was presented the Arts and Humanities Division award, and UW plant pathology professor Paul Ahlquist won the award for the Biological Sciences Division.
The award for the Physical Sciences Division was presented to UW chemistry professor, Laura Kiessling, and the award for the Social Studies Division was presented to Michael Apple, who focuses on curriculum and instruction.