Dear OSU community members,
While I conclude my service today as OSU president, there are important actions underway, including next steps to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within Oregon State University.
President-elect King Alexander and I agree it will take each member of the university community to achieve transformational reform, support Black Lives Matter and end systemic inequality and discrimination against the Black community and other communities of color. We ask that you join us in committing to action and persistence to provide equal opportunity and success for all faculty, staff and students.
First, we fully support policing reform legislation adopted last week by the Oregon Legislature.
As well, OSU will utilize extensive community dialogue and engagement sessions to design future Corvallis campus public safety services and programs that are based on OSU community values and needs, and the educational mission of the university.
As a community, we will design a public safety program that includes Corvallis campus law enforcement services that provide for community oversight, accountability, transparency, ongoing community engagement and conversation, ongoing training, and a commitment to advancing inclusivity, diversity and justice, and ending bias in law enforcement. In doing so, we will change and continue to improve public safety within the university.
Community outreach sessions to help design public safety services will be held throughout July. Meanwhile, Edgar Rodriguez, OSU’s new associate vice president of public safety, will engage personally in meetings with the Associated Students of Oregon State University, the offices of Diversity and Cultural Engagement, including the seven student cultural resource centers, Equal Opportunity Access and Institutional Diversity, the Faculty Senate, student-athletes and many other faculty, staff and student organizations.
You likely know that we sought by July 1 to transition from contracted law enforcement services provided by the Oregon State Police.
Mindful of the change in policing long overdue and required in America – and fully emphasized by the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police – two weeks ago we put on hold the development of OSU’s law enforcement program and related hiring of personnel until we fully engage the community in dialogue and public safety design programs. At the same time, we must continue to protect the university community and provide emergency response to reported incidents on the Corvallis campus, including matters such as robbery, sexual assault, vehicle accidents, building and vehicle break-ins, and other reports of violence against people, while providing potential law enforcement response for the OSU research nuclear reactor.
Therefore, following the recommendation from Mike Green, vice president for finance and administration and the OSU public safety advisory committee – which is made up of faculty, staff and students – we will continue OSP services through Dec. 31, 2020. At that time, we will move to university-provided law enforcement services to be designed in the weeks ahead with community involvement.
On Thursday, July 2, from noon to 1 p.m., Mike Green, Edgar Rodriguez, and Paul Odenthal, senior associate vice president for administration, will hold a virtual community town hall on this public safety transition. Here is a link to that virtual community meeting: https://oregonstate.zoom.us/j/97869030477
The extension of OSP services will disappoint and concern some members of our university community and I sincerely appreciate that concern. At the same time, I ask that you trust that we are moving to address what must change and do so in a complete, transparent and caring manner that will provide long-term change while providing needed community protection.
Looking ahead, we will continue to engage in collaborative conversations with communities of color to address meaningful reform in other aspects of the university, including required training for all faculty and staff; hiring more Black faculty and staff; and improving the ways we support and increase the support of Black faculty, staff and students and other faculty, staff and students of color.
I know that much more is needed to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within OSU and share some of the efforts already underway.
This summer, we are launching Leading Change for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a core offering in OSU’s Academic Leadership Academy. This program will help prepare academic unit leaders – including deans, school directors and department heads – to effectively lead the organizational change that is needed to achieve OSU’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. The program complements additional trainings available from the offices of Faculty Affairs, Human Resources, Student Affairs, Institutional Diversity and Equal Opportunity and Access.
We are in the final stages of hiring a director for talent acquisition in the Office of Human Resources to develop and carry out strategies for increasing diversity in hiring. Much work has already taken place to review and improve our search and selection process. For example, this year the President and Provost’s Leadership Council spent the year developing toolkits for diverse faculty and staff recruitment and retention.
Within Counseling and Psychological Services, a current counselor vacancy will be redesigned to serve as a specialist in supporting Black/African-American students.
We know that We Have Work to Do to achieve an inclusive, diverse and equitable university culture that we are proud of. An example of such action – even if a small gesture – is that we announced jointly last week with the University of Oregon that we will discontinue the use of “Civil War” in promoting athletic events between OSU and UO. Additional actions being taken and planned by the university will be shared in the week ahead.
To be fully successful in advancing this work and outcomes will take the effort and engagement of every member of OSU community. Any less is not acceptable. We must each continue to be in conversation and action as a community to advance our goals and university values. We must persist, persist, persist!
I am confident that by working together, we can transform the university experiences of all students, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders, future members of the university community and Oregonians that we serve.
Edward J. Ray