A message from President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous

Many faculty, staff, students, and alumni have shared deep and urgent concerns in recent weeks about structural racism, calling for change in America and within our UMBC community. We hear your concerns, and we share your sense of urgency—and we have hope, because we know that the UMBC community is committed to effecting change. 

Looking in the mirror as a campus

UMBC has not always looked as it does today. When faced in the past with high drop-out rates among Black students, too few Black students in STEM fields, inadequate recruitment and retention of faculty and staff from underrepresented groups, and urgent concerns about sexual assault and hate speech, our campus has learned to look in the mirror, name the issues, listen to diverse voices, and work together to address the deeply rooted structural barriers to our becoming a more inclusive community. 

We are committed to addressing issues involving the community as a whole, as well as issues in specific departments and units on campus through continued listening and appropriate actions. We will continue to communicate with our campus community on these very important issues. 

At this critical time, we must be clear that our work is far from complete, while drawing strength from our successes:

  • There is no overall academic achievement gap at UMBC, and we must continue to increase the retention and graduation rates for students of all backgrounds.
  • UMBC has a national reputation for producing Black leaders in fields ranging from public service and the arts to STEM and healthcare, and yet we must do an even better job of supporting our students and creating an inclusive classroom and campus experience as they prepare to serve and lead in the larger society.
  • Increasing the proportion of underrepresented faculty at UMBC is a strategic priority of the University. This work has been supported by numerous initiatives, and yet we recognize that we have deeper institutional work to do if we are to succeed in recruiting, retaining, and promoting meaningful numbers of Black faculty and others from diverse backgrounds.
  • UMBC offers a wealth of courses and programs that explore structural racism, and yet we must ensure that the academic and co-curricular experiences of all students include meaningful engagement with issues surrounding diversity, including race, national origin, gender, religion, ability, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, veterans status, and marital/family status. Our strategic plan, recently developed by faculty, staff, and students, recognizes this as a key priority, and we will begin planning for a major revision of our General Education Program in the coming months. 
  • This work has not just begun. Over the past year, we have been working on several major organizational and personnel decisions, and our proactive approach has led to the promotion and hiring of several additional Black faculty and staff in senior positions. In addition, we created a new Office of Equity and Inclusion that is working with students, faculty, and staff on critical civil rights issues. And yet we know that success is never final. We have much work to do. 

Change requires courage, because it requires us to see things differently from the way they are at present. It requires us to recognize our failures as well as our successes. Most of all, it requires us to challenge ourselves to be better as individuals and as a community. The work ahead calls for awareness of self and others, honesty, humility, and the skill to both push and support one another. The work is hard. It is vital. And we believe there is no better place to advance the change we want to see than UMBC.

It is particularly important to recognize our Black faculty and other campus experts who are nationally recognized for their research addressing inequality. Their work speaks truth to power, and they inspire all of us.

We invite you to join us on Thursday, June 18, 4 – 5:30 p.m. for The Many Faces of Structural Racism: A Campus Conversation to learn more from some of these experts as we continue to consider how to address structural racism, both in America and on our campus. Presenters include:

  • Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, director and professor, Language, Literacy, and Culture, and affiliate professor, Africana Studies
  • Dr. Keisha Allen, assistant professor, Education
  • Dr. Shawn Bediako, professor, Psychology
  • Dr. Tyson King-Meadows, professor, Political Science, American Council on Education (ACE) fellow
  • Ariana Arnold, Esq., Director, Office of Equity and Inclusion
  • Dr. Jasmine Lee, Director of Inclusive Excellence, Student Affairs
  • Dr. David Hoffman, Director, Center for Democracy and Civic Life

We know that a variety of departments and divisions have sponsored and are planning events to support our community during this time. We will be compiling and sharing these through the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s website. Please contact oei@umbc.edu if you have an event or resource to share.

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