Following a campus climate study a few years ago, University of New Mexico President Robert G. Frank and representatives of an Alliance of African American Groups have been meeting regularly to establish an ongoing dialogue and positive lines of communication. During the past year and a half, through one-on-one meetings and working sessions, the group has accomplished a number of goals including:
1. Scott Carreathers was designated as the official liaison between the Office of the President and the Alliance of African American groups.
2. A collective effort is being made to attract African American faculty and staff to UNM.
- The UNM Health Sciences Center has hired Brian Gibbs as Vice Chancellor in the Office of Diversity and assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. He will do strategic planning, evaluation and engagement for the Health Sciences Center for faculty, learners and staff and will develop community collaborations. Gibbs comes to UNM from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
- UNM’s College of Arts & Sciences appointed Robert Jefferson as director of Africana Studies. Jefferson’s research and teaching interests include military, disability studies, 20th century United State history and international relations. He comes to UNM from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he was director of the African American Studies Program and an associate professor in the history department.
3. Dr. Charles Becknell Jr. has been reinstated as the Associate Director of Africana Studies.
4. A collective effort is being made to improve the recruitment, retention and graduation of African American students. Efforts include:
- The Provost has introduced a diversity requirement in the curriculum.|
- The UNM President is promoting recruitment and outreach efforts in New Mexico and around the country.
- Student affairs is collaborating on and supporting target recruiting for African Americans. Dedicated staff in African American Student Services (AASS) will travel throughout New Mexico and others states to increase student recruitment to UNM.
- AASS will work closely with New York’s Harlem Academy to recruit students.
- The Provost formed an achievement gap task force to review issues and promote solutions.
- Vice Provost Jozi DeLeon and the Division of Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are working with the Office of African American Affairs (OAAA) Education Committee on pipeline issues for African American students.
- The OAAA is also involved in the Unidos Project to expand UNM initiatives for Student Success for African American and Latino student success.
- DEI has hired Rodney Bowe to align its outreach efforts to young men of color with the needs of the African American community.
- The Foundations of Excellence (FoE) program is focused on improving the first-year experience for all UNM students, and includes efforts to improve the transition to the University, enhance curriculum, coordinate student support services and strengthen teaching in first-year courses.
- As part of FoE, UNM will be focusing on high-impact practices, including a system by which the University can match those practices to the student sub-populations with which they are most effective. The student success goals include a focus on traditionally underrepresented students.
- AASS will ensure that numerous retention programs and events are in place throughout the year to make sure students feel welcome and experience a sense of community so they remain in school and graduate.
- AASS and STEM Gateway are creating a summer bridge program for students who will likely be entering UNM in the fall. MATH and STEM preparation and instruction will be provided and will be offered through a UC course. STEM Gateway will be assisting with the development of STEM preparation workshops and activities while the bridge students are on campus this summer.
- The graduation of African American students will be celebrated at the end of the each semester.
5. Comprehensive UNM campus safety initiatives have been implemented to improve the safety and wellbeing of student, faculty, staff and visitors. Initiatives include:
- The Civil Campus Council was formed to promote civility on campus through regular meetings, speaker series and events.
- UNM established the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to provide victim oriented response to sex crimes on campus
- UNM and ACC housing are working to improve responsiveness to students living on campus.
- UNM is purchasing and implementing RAVE Guardian, a campus safety application that transforms mobile phones on campus into personal safety devices.
- A campus-wide safety committee is in place to discuss issues regarding physical safety (lighting, ramps, pathways) and barriers across campus- pedestrian, bicycle and skateboard problems.
- A campus-wide safety resource has been developed and will be distributed to students, staff and faculty as a guide for safety education and planning throughout campus.
- A student safety patrol has been proposed for the last two years. There are discussions on how this can be implemented soon.
- Student Affairs and the Women’s Resource Center will offer self-defense workshops each semester, primarily targeted to students.
6. UNM will continue to work to ensure diversity in decision making committees and other formal groups.
- When forming committees, the Division of Student Affairs will ensure they reflect diversity on campus.
7. Health Sciences Center is considering a request by the Alliance to implement community health clinic project in African American Churches.
8. President Frank continues to meet with the Alliance on a regular basis to increase community engagement and address concerns.