The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is joining the nation’s rising response to the death of George Floyd.
In a June 5 message, Chancellor Ronnie Green called for the university to start a “journey” in pursuit of anti-racism and racial equity, a focus that will be ongoing and not a “one and done” initiative.
“I use the word ‘journey’ not because we are seeking some vague destination which we may eventually reach, but because our efforts in this moment cannot be ‘one and done,’” Green said. “We must ensure meaningful step after meaningful step that advances real and sustained change in addressing this deeply enduring challenge.”
Accountability for and a maintained focus for the journey will be centered in the Office of the Chancellor. The work will be led by Marco Barker, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, and two co-leaders to be appointed by Green.
“This will require commitment and action from all of us, particularly our leaders across our campus,” Green said. “We will be, and should be, held accountable for ensuring actions are taken. If we do not, we will fail to fulfill our mission of access and success for all — the basic premise of our founding in 1869.”
Green’s announcement followed a week in which daily protests about the deaths of Floyd and other black men and women were held in multiple cities within each of the nation’s 50 states. The response coupled with campus conversations — including a “Dish it Up” session that drew more 300 students, faculty and staff to discuss issues of inequality and inclusion — led to the start of the university’s racial equality journey.
In his message, Green said higher education is uniquely positioned — able to learn from the past while giving voice and action to the present — to make a positive impact in shaping future generations.
“Now must be different. This cannot be another moment where we collectively rage at injustice, acknowledge pain and take no meaningful action,” Green said. “We must take real steps to address racial inequalities and a history of exclusion. We must take them now. And, we must take them again, and again, and again… while continuously critiquing and evaluating our progress or when we fall short.
“This is an endeavor where we have to be intentional and we commit every day.”