Action Plan to Address Racism and Equity

July 16, 2020

[Written by Dr. Donald Christian]

On June 1, you received a memo from me regarding my response to the death of George Floyd with a promise that we, as an institution, would work to become a place where racial equity and justice have prominence at Concordia University Texas. Over the past six weeks, I have had numerous discussions across the institution about what that means and how to put that promise into action. This memo will address the action steps to be taken by the University.

Let me begin with an apology that not enough has been said or done in both the past six weeks as well as the months and years before my June 1 memo. This apology includes:

  1. That Concordia University Texas has not taken the issue of equity as seriously as it should over the years, failing to aggressively address the lower success rates of our Black and Latino undergraduate students as compared to white students; and
  2. That Concordia University Texas has failed to be intentional about and sufficiently resource the efforts to ensure that we have a faculty and staff that proportionately represents our students in terms of race and ethnicity.

While we will take specific measures to address the above issues immediately, long-term change will take time. To ensure that our students of color receive what they need to be successful through the intentional design of the college experience means that we will need to address policies, processes and practices that lead to removing barriers for underserved students. This will be hard work; this will be ongoing work; and this will be work that takes institutional commitment.

Thus, this academic year, a strategic initiative will be launched that more directly addresses equity for our students of color. This initiative will include multiple items to create a process by which attention to these issues becomes a part of our daily work, ensuring that equity for underserved students is always on our minds and ultimately becomes a reality. Goals will be set, processes put in place and accountability measures built. Regular updates will be sent to the CTX community, with the initial plan and update ready by September 1.

While more details will be forthcoming, the plan will include the following:

  • A commitment from Concordia’s leadership to continue to develop and grow in their understanding of racial inequity and how they can work against racial injustice. This will include intentional diversity, equity and inclusion coaching for senior leadership.
  • A process that consistently tracks demographic data to better understand the composition of our student population that informs the creation of policies and practices that support success for students of color including recruitment, enrollment, engagement, retention, graduation and job placement data.
  • A thorough and ongoing review of existing policies and practices that will support the dismantling of barriers facing our students and employees of color.
  • Creating places within the academic curriculum across the University that intentionally addresses issues of racism and injustice, especially those encountered by our students of color.
  • Holding regular forums and dialogues that invite both internal and external audiences to engage in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.
  • A continuing and intentional commitment to the recruitment and retention of faculty and staff of color.
  • Providing resources for students and employees in pursuit of their own growth toward making CTX a more diverse, equitable and inclusive institution.

Now is the time to more fully and deeply execute and institutionalize the work that has been taking place over the past several years. I want to recognize especially the work that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has done. Their initiation of activities and partnership with others has made a difference on our campus – those accomplishments can be found and reviewed at About Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Beyond our work as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, CTX is currently engaged with the E-3 Alliance, the Gates Foundation and other universities in Central Texas to put in place best practices that ensure equity for underserved students. And because we have begun prioritizing the hiring of diverse employees, five out of our last ten full-time faculty hires have been either Black or Latino.

Moving forward, we will be guided by our mission, vision and values as we think about, talk about and act to address issues of racism and equity. Our theme for this academic year, Concordia: With One Heart, Joyful in Hope, is a reminder that we, as a Christ-Centered community, can do this together. Yet, I am fully aware that for change to take place, the work begins with me. You have my commitment to this institution that we will take these issues seriously and make the necessary changes toward improvement.

Dr. Donald Christian
President and CEO
Concordia University Texas