New anti-racism task force announced

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Today we are announcing the creation of a Presidential Anti-Racism Task Force to work on developing and deploying actions on our campus that can increase dialogue and understanding among students, staff, and faculty from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The group also will identify other actions and investments that will enhance the experience and success of students, staff, and faculty from all backgrounds at the U and in the community.

We are working to finalize co-chairs and members of the task force and the group’s full roster will be published in an upcoming issue of the @theU newsletter.

The University of Utah stands against racism in any form. Our anti-discrimination policies are robust, but we recognize that we need to take stronger actions. As leaders, we hold ourselves accountable to ensure that the U is a place where all are welcomed and valued, and where learners from all backgrounds prosper.

We recently hosted two national experts on racial microaggressions to strengthen our capacity for addressing issues when and where they occur on campus. Much was learned — about our strengths and our challenges — in the dialogues these experts had with members of our community.

As a follow up to this staff and faculty forum, a team of campus leaders began meeting to identify actions to strengthen and lend greater visibility to our stance against racism, and to provide continued opportunities for learning and dialogue. The task force is a result of these initial discussions.

In addition, a series of events on our campus this fall has heightened a broad recognition of the need for reflection, resolve, and swift action to address racism. Acts of racism in which members of our community are attacked, bullied, and intimidated are indefensible and have no place on our campus. Click here to see an update on the recent vandalism at the Carolyn and Kem Gardner Building. We can credit the U’s Department of Public Safety for its active police work in quickly identifying the vandals, young men from a local high school. Our thanks to Chief Dale Brophy and his team for their good work on this case.

Finally, we want to acknowledge that members of our Black community and other communities of color have been communicating with us for many years about the need for stronger action. We regret it took deplorable acts of overt racism on campus this fall to help bring us to this point.

We, as a community, need to do more to address incidents of racism, bias, and hate. If you have not already seen it, please click here to read a letter signed by deans that is being distributed throughout campus. We ask that you join with us as we strive to meet our goal of making the U a welcoming place for all.


President David W. Pershing
Senior Vice Presidents Ruth Watkins and Lorris Betz