Diversity theme threads through
by Peggy Harrison
student board member H. Timothy Lovelace Jr. (seated) was
honored for his work on diversity and other issues.
By Carol Wood
week at its quarterly meeting, the Universitys Board
of Visitors found itself facilitating an unplanned three-day
discussion on diversity issues.
was a theme that first unfolded in President
John T. Casteen IIIs opening remarks Thursday afternoon,
and one that threaded throughout several key committee reports
until it reached a finale Saturday morning in a thoughtful, and
sometimes tense, debate.
members and U.Va. administrators clearly were troubled by recent
events including the reported racially motivated assault
of Student Council candidate Daisy Lundy as well as an earlier
blackface incident their impact on the University
community and what more needs to be done in response.
Work in Tandem
The Board of Visitors special committee on diversity
and President John T. Casteen IIIs Commission on Diversity
and Equity are intended to work in concert, but each has
a specific function.
boards special committee, which will be chaired by
Warren M. Thompson, will include evaluating efforts to promote
diversity among students, faculty and administrators as
well as with residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle
County. The committee will meet with representatives of
these groups and others and make an initial report at the
board's July retreat.
Among the first areas the boards group is expected
to address are:
The scope of efforts to promote diversity among members
of the student body, faculty of all schools, staff and administrators;
The scope of efforts to promote diversity in external relations
of the University, including relations with surrounding
communities and all aspects of procurement of goods and
Efforts to promote understanding among all elements of the
University community; and
The appropriate role of the board in continuing oversight
of diversity issues.
the boards committee is set to report this summer,
Casteens commission will conduct its work over a one-year
period, with a final report due May 1, 2004.
of the charge of the commission is to identify gaps in programs
and suggest remedies for filling them, to review previous
University studies on diversity and equity, to examine comparable
programs elsewhere for recommendations that should be implemented
and to develop a best practices model. The commission also
will recommend board-level policy changes to the board's
the boards diversity committee and a presidential commission
were launched on Day One of the meeting, and talk of additional
diversity initiatives took place regarding curriculum and student
life, one pointed question about suspected racism and hate crimes
at the University heightened the tone Saturday morning.
member Terence P. Ross asked Patricia M. Lampkin, vice
president for student affairs, if U.Va. wasnt sugarcoating
the present problem. This is about hate crimes and hatred,
Ross said. Part of our job is to educate students
to go to the core of what happened instead of patching it up.
acknowledged that over the past months she and many others at
the University including students, faculty and administrators
had similar discussions. She noted that they struggled
over the definitions, as well as the scope of the problems, but
concluded that the issue went well beyond race.
certainly are serious racial concerns, Lampkin said, but
we are a dealing with a complex situation that must address all
facets for our efforts to succeed.
Lampkin elaborated. Diversity is the term our current students
use, she said. Another term, multiculturalism, also
incorporates race, ethnicity and religion. These are all difficult
issues, and each needs to be addressed in a different manner.
Because of U.Va.s history and recent events, she added,
special attention is being paid to critical issues related to
Over the past five months, Lampkin and others have looked at a
series of long-term strategies for change, and she believes that
substantial progress has been made with the help of many voices.
board discussion leapt back and forth across the boardroom table,
with Warren M. Thompson, chairman of the boards special
committee on diversity, entering in to commend students for their
maturity in dealing with recent events. Outgoing student member
H. Timothy Lovelace Jr. meanwhile encouraged the University to
focus on declining African-American enrollment and noted that
there is a perception among students that the board has a history
of being inattentive to diversity issues
F. Rainey Jr., the newly elected rector whose first official act
was to create the special diversity committee, stepped in to answer
a question that Thompson originally posed to Lovelace and John
Rodney, incoming student board member.
How, Thompson had asked, would you grade the board on diversity?
Lovelace and Rodney offered some constructive criticism, they
declined to give a letter grade.
called them kind, then said he ventured the board
was a C minus at best.
said, for the second time in as many weeks, diversity is
a priority of this board
but we need to put some meat on
took Raineys comments and commitment a step further. As
a leading university in this country, we should be setting the
standard, not settling for middle of the pack.
hold each other accountable and set goals as to where wed
like to see this institution three years from now, he said.
I should resign if Im not able to effect change. And
if each of us takes the responsibility to set goals, well
see change a lot quicker.