U of L sociology department leads anti-racism push on campus Friday, Aug 14 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

The University of Louisville’s sociology department sent a July 7 letter to leadership raising concerns of systemic racism at U of L. Signed by more than 700 faculty, staff, students and alumni, it challenged the university to implement changes to become an anti-racist university.

The letter detailed several examples of unfair treatment of Black faculty at U of L, including biased student evaluations, marginalization of their teaching and research, a lack of opportunity to move into leadership positions and other instances of discrimination.

“The time and energy spent navigating these experiences greatly inhibit Black faculty’s ability to engage in the scholarly production of the currency of our institution – grants and publications,” the letter said.

The letter went on to explain that Black faculty’s classroom commitment to social justice often negatively impacts their careers in the form of unsuccessful retention, tenure and promotion reviews.

“Addressing structural and systemic racism at U of L will require all administrators, faculty, staff, and students to take responsibility and actively engage in anti-racist policies,” the letter stated. It went on to include a series of questions the university must respond to through action to move forward as an anti-racist university.

Both U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and University Provost Beth Boehm read and responded to the open letter.

Bendapudi said the letter and questions raised were thoughtful and necessary.

“This will be an engagement of the entire campus community to recognize the successes of the past, draw attention to the current anti-racist work being done on campus, and to chart a course for how we can establish ourselves as the premier anti-racist metropolitan university in the country,” Bendapudi said of the university’s recently announced Anti-Racism agenda.

Provost Boehm addressed concerns over lack of diversity among faculty by focusing on deans and faculty administrators’ roles in making diverse hires when able.

“We must work together to figure out how to change the way faculty and unit administrators make their choices about who will join their faculty ranks,” Boehm said.

Boehm also discussed the balance between incentivizing department deans to make diverse hires and not overreaching the authority of the provost position in selecting new faculty.

She said that the provost does not hire faculty and therefore does not have a direct hand in increasing the diversity of departments.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Provost Boehm shares update with faculty amid suspended classes Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

University of Louisville faculty and students are returning from spring break to new territory: online classes. Amid this situation, U of L provost Beth Boehm shared an update and her thoughts on the situation.

Beginning March 18 all classes will be administered remotely, April 5 being the earliest date to return to in-person classes. For many professors, conducting online classes will be uncharted territory.

“I understand that many of you are stressed and worried about teaching remotely; honestly, I would be fearful too if I were teaching this semester,” said Boehm. “But we have an obligation to our students and our accrediting bodies to enable our students to complete their courses remotely.”

With faculty and students worried about the efficacy of these online classes, Boehm wants them to know that it will require patience on both sides.

“In a note to students, I asked that they be patient with their instructors, many of whom are teaching online for the first time,” she said. “Here, I am asking you to also be patient with your students, to be understanding of their anxieties, both about online delivery and the coronavirus itself.”

To reduce the stress of both parties, Boehm reiterated that faculty are being trained to properly administer their online courses to students. They have been working with the Delphi Center staff to ensure the online courses are a success.

In addition, Boehm reminded the faculty how important it is for the university to stay open during times like these.

“We are committed to staying open to help our most vulnerable students have food, shelter, and access to libraries and IT (and some other essential services) while they work to finish the semester,” she said. “Your leadership in modeling healthy social distancing practices, resilience in the face of stress and unfamiliar work conditions, and kindness and compassion according to our Cardinal Principles will help our students stay calm and healthy and will enable them to complete their semester successfully.”

She also urged faculty to provide students without internet access the information to receive a free 60-day period from Spectrum. “To enroll, students should call 1-844-488-8395,” said Boehm. “While we will be sharing this info with students, if you have students who indicate they are without internet access, please give them this information.”

In closing, Boehm said how this will be a stressful and difficult time for everyone. But with that in mind, administration, faculty and students all have to work together to make this transition seamless she said.

“I know we are a resilient institution, and I’m urging us all to call upon our best selves in the days ahead,” said Boehm. “We have a lot of work to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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