Conference kicks off
year-long self-study of U.Va. community
Commitment, Honor, Challenge
Symposium & Workshop
University is launching a year-long initiative to deepen understanding
of diversity and foster new ways of responding to the changing
needs of its community.
year of introspection and study will kick off with a symposium
and workshop this month. The symposium, "Charting
Diversity: Commitment, Honor, Challenge," which is free
and open to the public, will be held Feb. 18 in Old Cabell Hall
Auditorium. A related workshop will be held on Grounds Feb. 19.
recent years, public universities around the country have been
grappling with legal attacks on their affirmative action admissions
policies, policies put in place as part of an effort to rectify
past racial discrimination, particularly against African Americans.
admissions policy is just one of several challenges that U.Va.
faces as it strives to reflect an increasingly diverse country
and an increasingly integrated global economy, according to conference
University has become a more diverse community over the last
three decades. Women now slightly outnumber men, nearly a
quarter of the students are members of minority groups, and
students come from 75 foreign countries.
the last three decades the University of Virginia has witnessed
a marked diversification in all its various sectors," said
University President John T. Casteen III. "Diversity is an
issue that has received ongoing scrutiny and we have been challenged
to do better.
symposium and workshop on diversity come at a critical juncture
in our history," Casteen said. "Across the country,
institutions of higher learning face challenges to traditional
means of achieving diversity. Launching this year of self-study,
the symposium seeks to discover ways to meet those challenges
and to set the stage for continued discussions across Grounds.
We expect these discussions will lead to an academic landscape
that reflects the rich diversity of our country."
leaders in higher education from around the country will speak
at the Feb. 18 conference.
Feb. 19, eight roundtables, made up of U.Va. faculty, staff and
students, will discuss different aspects of the educational experience
and how each affects and is affected by diversity. The roundtable
groups will undertake in-depth studies of their topics over the
coming year and in the spring of 2001 will prepare reports for
Casteen containing their findings, analyses and recommendations.
second conference is planned for the fall of 2001 to discuss the
roundtable reports and evaluate the recommendations.
goal of both conferences and the intervening year of study is
to chart a path for U.Va.'s future that takes into account the
University's history, current law and best practices at other
leading institutions around the country.
it's simple to say that the University supports diversity and
values it as a priority, it is much harder to articulate what
that means in our day-to-day activities," said Karen Holt,
director of U.Va.'s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and a
conference co-chair. "We hope this program inspires and provokes
us to look at our practices and interactions, and see where changes
and improvements are warranted. We are proud of our accomplishments,
but must continue to promote an educational community where everyone
feels supported and valued."
Serving as conference co-chairs with Holt are Glenna Chang, assistant
dean of students, and Linda Bunker, Parrish Professor of Education.
reexamination is part of U.Va.'s efforts to redefine itself for
the 21st century. It is one of several aspects of the broad self-examination
launched as the Virginia 2020 initiative.
the 1994 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals case, Daniel J. Podberesky
v. William E. Kirwan, President of the University of Maryland
at College Park, the court ruled the Benjamin Banneker Scholarship
Program unconstitutional because it was open only to African-American
the 1996 Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case, Cheryl Hopwood
v. State of Texas, the court ruled that the University of Texas'
law school's affirmative action policies were unconstitutional.
Center for Individual Rights, the conservative, non-profit,
public policy law firm that won the Hopwood case is currently
pursuing lawsuits against the University of Michigan and the
University of Washington.
these lawsuits, the center is arguing that the race-based admissions
policies of the two state universities violate the 1978 U.S.
Supreme Court case, Regents of the University of California
v. Allan Bakke. In that case the court struck down a university
admissions policy that relied solely on racial quotas to increase
diversity, although the court allowed the university to continue
to consider race as one of several factors used to create a
diverse student body.
Center for Individual Rights has notified other public universities,
including the University of Virginia, that their admissions
policies may be challenged in court.
symposium will look at how diversity furthers a university's
educational mission. Civil rights historian Julian Bond
has been on the U.Va. faculty since 1992.
Feb. 18 Symposium guest speakers
William E. Kirwan, president of Ohio State University,
and a leading proponent of diversity on college campuses,
who dealt with an affirmative action lawsuit in his previous
post as head of the University of Maryland
C. Bollinger, president of the University of Michigan,
who is spearheading program initiatives on diversity and
is involved with a lawsuit challenging the university's
affirmative action policies
Angela E. Oh, a commissioner with the Los Angeles
City Human Relations Commission and a former member of
President Clintonıs Commission on Race, who brings a national
perspective on race relations
four sessions of the day-long conference will be held
in Old Cabell Auditorium.
roundtables, made up of U.Va. faculty, staff and students,
will discuss different aspects of the educational experience
and how each affects and is affected by diversity.
discussion topics are: Community; Curriculum and Pedagogy;
Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Hiring, Retention and Promotion;
Governance and Leadership; Physical Space and Environmental
Assessment; Policy and Procedure; Student Development;
Student Recruitment, Enrollment, Retention and Graduation.
studying their topics over the coming year, the groups
will give final reports to U.Va. President John T. Casteen
III containing their findings, analyses and recommendations
by the spring of 2001.
the web site at http://www.virginia.edu/chartingdiversity/
or call Equal Opportunity Programs at 924-3200.