New and revamped positions contribute to cardinal anti-racism agenda Friday, Apr 16 2021 

By Madelin Shelton —

As part of U of L’s goal of becoming a premier anti-racist institution, the university has detailed its efforts to create new and revamped diversity-focused positions.

The varied positions have a variety of responsibilities, including creating an inclusive culture on campus, improving retention and graduation rates among minority students, recruiting minority faculty, creating better opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses to work with the university and more.

These revamped and new positions include the following:

  • Brigitte Burpo, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, College of Education and Human Development
  • Valerie Clay, coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusion, J.B. Speed School of Engineering
  • Crystal Rae Coel, assistant dean for student affairs and diversity, Brandeis School of Law
  • Cherie Dawson-Edwards, associate dean for diversity, engagement, culture and climate, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Marc D. Ellis, assistant director of procurement diversity and inclusion, Office of Procurement Services
  • Audra French, assistant director of student affairs and diversity equity and inclusion, School of Dentistry
  • Amalia Gomez, Latinx admissions counselor, Office of Admissions
  • Leondra Gully, director of Black and multicultural initiatives, Cultural Center
  • Anna Hinton, assistant dean for administration and diversity, equity and inclusion, School of Dentistry
  • Trinidad Jackson, assistant dean for culture and liberation, School of Public Health & Information Sciences
  • Emma Sterrett-Hong, associate dean of equity and inclusion, Kent School of Social Work
  • Nakia Strickland, associate director for diversity engagement, U of L Alumni Association
  • Morgan West, new student financial aid advisor, Office of Financial Affairs

In addition to the above, the university also said that the Cultural Center will be filling a director position for Hispanic, Latino and Indigenous initiatives, and new positions are being considered in other U of L departments.

When discussing these positions and how they fit into the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi outlined that anti-racism is about believing that skin color does not confer any inherent inferiority or superiority to anybody else and that these positions help advance that idea.

“Being an anti-racist university means that on the individual level and the structural level, we examine what we are doing to see if we have conditions in place to make it possible for every human that’s here to achieve their full potential and not have their race be a factor in that,” she said.

Bendapudi explained that these new and revamped positions indicate that these ideals aren’t happening in one place, but that every school and every unit are taking it seriously.

For how these positions foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion Bendapudi said that these positions will ensure that U of L is trying to stay diverse. In addition, they will help foster equity by being close to problems and being able to argue and advocate for equity.

“Having all these people visible in each unit is an invitation to others and hopefully makes them feel more included,” Bendapudi said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

The post New and revamped positions contribute to cardinal anti-racism agenda appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

University Alumni Association hosts anti-racism webinar Tuesday, Sep 22 2020 

By Victoria Doll —

The University of Louisville Alumni Association recently hosted an event in response to widespread racial unrest titled “Anti-Racism, Justice and Safety: Compatible or Conflicting Concepts?”

The event was moderated by College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Owens, and included Cherie Dawson-Edwards, associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Aishia Brown, assistant professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences; and Keturah Herron, a policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

The conversation began as Owens asked how to reshape our community to make it safer and more humane for all.

Brown advised people to study history. She encouraged people to examine how polices already in place could be racist or have outcomes that have harmed the black and brown community.

Dawson-Edwards said her goal in educating people about anti-racism is to engage in deeper conversations about race despite the discomfort it sometimes brings.

The conversation around racism played into the discussion of the settlement between the city of Louisville and Breonna Taylor’s family. The settlement, which included $12 million paid to the Taylor family, included building community relations between the LMPD and the communities they police.

Herron, who was instrumental in the passing of Breonna’s Law, was excited and hopeful about this part of the settlement but remains hesitant and skeptical about how the policies are going to be implemented.

“It’s imperative that we take community engagement seriously,” Brown said, adding that there needs to be a way to hold people accountable. She said there needs to be guidelines to begin engagement between black citizens and police.

The panelists all agreed that there needs to be emphasis on the idea that the Breonna Taylor case is a race issue, not just an accident.

“To say her death isn’t about race is wrong. The aftermath has been about race. There needs to be awareness around the fact that Black women are treated differently by the state and in society,” Herron said.

The webinar ended with a conversation about how white people can be allies and promote accountability. Dawson-Edwards said that people need to learn from their missteps.

“Trust black women. Don’t try to explain it away. Listen, it will be uncomfortable, but you have to listen,” she said. “Own what you did, tell us how you aren’t going to do that again, don’t do it again, get in line and let’s move on.”

At the end of the event, the panelists encouraged people to educate themselves on instances of police brutality in America and to listen to the people of color in their communities.

“Acknowledge that there has been change, but we still need to push for more. This same thing can happen again if something is not done,” Dawson-Edwards said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

The post University Alumni Association hosts anti-racism webinar appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Interim A&S Dean appoints Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Wednesday, Aug 19 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

Cherie Dawson-Edwards has been named as the new Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. David Owen, interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, made the announcement of Dawson-Edwards’ appointment in an email Aug. 8.

“Dr. Dawson-Edwards brings to the role a deep commitment to belonging, equity, and social justice, along with considerable administrative experience, and a track record of engagement with our local community,” Owen said of the new appointee.

Dawson-Edwards’ prior experience includes being the acting director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at U of L, working with Jefferson County Public School district to conduct professional development training, and consulting others on restorative justice practices.

She has served as the chair of the Department of Criminal Justice since 2018, directs the Social Change program and serves on the national board of the ACLU.

Owen said Dawson-Edwards is an “accomplished scholar,” with four published book chapters, 13 peer-reviewed journal articles and an assortment of other publications. Over the span of her career, she has received over $500,000 in grants.

Dawson-Edwards’ appointment to this position comes at a historical moment at U of L, the city of Louisville and the country. With a global movement calling for racial justice taking place, in part sparked by Louisville’s own tragic loss of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, discussions of diversity, equity and inclusion are increasingly prevalent.

In response to concerns about structural racism, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi recently committed to making U of L the nation’s premier anti-racist metropolitan research university.

Speaking on Dr. Dawson-Edwards’ ability to lead at such a critical time, Owen said, “Dr. Dawson-Edwards brings the wisdom, compassion, expertise, and experience to lead us as we all work towards becoming a community where all feel they belong.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Interim A&S Dean appoints Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

University leaders hold virtual forum with community Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi held a virtual forum with U of L Police Department Chief Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards on June 9 to answer community questions on the relationship between ULPD and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Lewis began by explaining the current relationship ULPD has with LMPD and how it goes back to the 1970s.

“Following the Kent State incident, many universities felt it important to create and develop their own police force,” Lewis said. “Many may not know, but this organization started with a Louisville Metro retiree.”

Lewis said that when he arrived to U of L two years ago, ULPD had about 98% retired Louisville Metro police officers working for ULPD. “To date, we are at about 40%,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that ULPD is a state accredited police department with less than 50 sworn officers, about 30 security officers and travel escorts.

Bendapudi also explained there is no formal partnership agreement between the two police departments that U of L can divest from.

Dawson-Edwards told students: “We hear you.”

“I realize that people think that training and education as just a reform thing, not a divest, but I want to argue it’s both,” Dawson-Edwards said. “We have to do training and education, and we need to do it better. We need to hold the police accountable, we need to hold ourselves accountable for that education and training.”

Like Bendapudi said in her response to BSU, Dawson-Edwards has committed to doing equity audits for all criminal justice academic programs, including the police executive leadership development certificate.

“I want to make sure that we are infusing equity, inclusion, diversity, social justice, all types of things in our curriculum,” she said. “It is not enough for us to just teach people how to be police and not teach people what they should expect from the community in this society that we’re living in.”

She anticipates the Southern Police Institute, a 60-year old officer training program located and taught at U of L, will do the same. This could include more activities, training and education about these particular issues with current police officers.

During the Q&A portion of the forum, Bendapudi was asked why U of L could not do what the University of Minnesota did in choosing to dissociate from their local police department.

“The reality is that we are an urban campus as you’ve heard,” Bendapudi said. “Our streets and roads, and Louisville’s, are intertwined. So we definitely need to work together–that’s the concurrent and overlapping jurisdictions you’ve heard about.”

Dawson-Edwards further explained that what is coming out of Minnesota is because people have been researching and doing the work to understand the problems for a long time.

“They are primed for it,” Dawson-Edwards said. “They have a 150 year history document on performance review for their police called ‘Enough is Enough.'”

“You can’t just take one city’s or one university’s blueprint and lay it on top of ours without making sure that our stuff matches theirs,” Dawson-Edwards said.

Bendapudi ended the forum by reiterating the actions U of L is taking, including now doing background checks for any officer who works at university events.

“As mother and leader of higher education, who has always cared for her students, I am telling you that we are going to work together on this,” Bendapudi said. “There is so much to learn.  I catch myself all the time when I forget all the privileges I have and you as young people, you’re educating us.”

She then committed to an anti-racist agenda moving forward. Bendapudi said there will be more forums in the future to continue discussion on broad, difficult topics.

“Let’s not forget this moment, this is not performative. This is not just until the news cycle changes. It’s important,” Bendapudi said. “I will do my best and I give you my word. My job is to do the very best I can for you, and that’s what I intend to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

The post University leaders hold virtual forum with community appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.