Message from President Todd Diacon
The Importance of Our Anti-Racism Efforts
The events of 2020 have revealed in startling and heart-wrenching ways how systemic racism remains a chronic social ill that all people of good conscience must work to eradicate.
At Kent State University, our core values of respect and kindness for all demand that we step up to do everything in our power to lead the conversation that works to eradicate the racial violence that has plagued our communities throughout history.
As an institution that promotes learning, discovery and global citizenship under the canopy of diversity, equity and peaceful coexistence, Kent State must be a leader in the fight.
We must do better, and more important, we know that we can do better.
For Kent State to set an example for the larger community, we must first work within our university to remove racial barriers and racial bias.
This year, we accelerated our work with the establishment of a broad-based Anti-Racism Task Force. This group is charged with examining all areas of university life and how they impact students, faculty and staff to identify racial barriers and problems and to recommend solutions so that we become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive institution.
This ongoing work is just one of many recent efforts, which also include key appointments in our senior leadership team – Lamar Hylton, Ph.D., to vice president for Student Affairs and Amoaba Gooden, Ph.D., to interim vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – and the completion of eight weeks of intensive race and equity training for my entire cabinet by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Institute.
Kent State hosted a Race Symposium as part of the university’s Great Place Initiative, held eight town halls meetings for students, faculty and staff at the height of the country’s racial unrest this summer, and conducted a campus-wide diversity audit to see where we stand on critical topics of racial equality.
These efforts were built on an existing foundation of programs in recent years that included implementation of our Faculty Hiring Initiative, expansion of our student success programs and a university climate study, used to gauge the racial environment at Kent State.
Other efforts currently underway include the formation of an Anti-Bias Response Team to address issues and incidents as they arise, the funding and implementing of a new Faculty Hiring Initiative for fiscal year 2021, the planning of a town-gown Safety Summit with the city of Kent and the improvement of the cultural competencies of our university police force.
We are working to enhance the role of our Diversity and Education Training Lab to expands its offerings and services across the entire Kent State system and to provide opportunities for outreach to outside organizations.
And we endeavor to strengthen our identity centers – the Student Multicultural Center, Women’s Center, LGBTQ+ Student Center, Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support and Diversity and Inclusion Leadership – by placing them within the Division of Student Affairs.
Our overall strategic planning includes cross-divisional, cabinet level projects to develop a university equity statement and to enhance the skills of our leaders to better identify and address issues of racism and inequality.
Battling racism and prejudice in our own house is not easy work. It requires that we come face-to-face with our institutional flaws. But this work is vitally important, not just for our university community, but for the greater good of our nation and world.
Kent State is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Racism and bigotry have no place on our campuses, and we will not relent until all people experience Kent State University as a place that fosters respect for diversity as the only true path to peace.