Dean Kamphaus announces a new Network for Equity in Education Policy
June 7, 2020
Dear COE Faculty and Staff,
It was a difficult week for many at the UO; undoubtedly a result of coping with too many challenges simultaneously. I saw more fatigue and short tempers than in all of my prior years on this campus. I share this observation because I think that we are all now developing a better understanding of the stresses, slights, aggression, marginalization and other ill experiences faced by members of the African American community every day, and the exhaustion these experiences cause. It is a time of teaching and learning about one another borne of the tragic murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in rapid succession. The African American community knows too well that these recent murders were predictable based on the long history of racially fueled violence their community has endured.
My decades of concern for my African American alumni and colleagues has driven my press for our college to improve our commitment to, and actions toward creating a more inclusive, tolerant, diverse, and respectful college community. In addition, my treasured conversations with Congressman John Lewis, Tommy Smith, Michael Eric Dyson, Ela Gandhi and other social justice leaders drives me. With your leadership and collaboration, we have made strides toward hiring a more diverse faculty and staff – about 40% of all hires in the past five years and over 80% last year. The percentage of students of color enrolling in our graduate programs has also steadily increased from 20% in 2014 to 30% today. We have also developed a reputation on campus for diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership, and for placing women in leadership roles due to the work of Dr. Krista Chronister, Dr. Dianna Carrizales-Engelmann, and many others. This is progress, not success. There is much work to be done, and with more urgency.
We are at another inflection point, where we must do better, and by doing so also show respect for the lives lost, opportunities forbidden, and pain endured by the African American community. We can also show our respect by taking bold and unprecedented actions. We could take months or years to create new opportunities for our faculty to better serve Black children and youth, as well as other populations who have experienced brutality and oppression. We must accelerate our interventions.
Racism is supported by structures – laws, policies, and practices that maintain it. I have long thought that we are among the very few colleges of education in the country with research performance of adequate breadth and depth to have a powerful impact on the structures that facilitate the educational success and healthy development of Black children and youth, and to interfere with the structures that maintain inequities.
In order to achieve this goal, I am announcing the formation of a new college-wide, and university-wide collaborative of faculty that will adopt the mission of accelerating and scaling up the translation of our research for the purpose of improving local, regional, and national legislation and policies that impact children, youth, and families. With Dr. Ilana Umansky serving as convener, and Drs. Bertranna Muruthi and Lillian Durán as co-conveners, this group will create the framework for a new Network for Equity in Education Policy (NEEP). This initiative, modeled after our interdisciplinary Social Data Science Network (SDS Network), will allow our college and university faculty to coalesce around the common cause of educational and human sciences equity and justice. Some initial NEEP activities envisioned include:
- Training on how to write spin-off pieces from research products for policymakers
- Training for building relationships and joining networks that link research and policy
- Creating and promoting a digital library of policy briefs based on faculty's translational research
The formation of NEEP will allow our college to better share our privilege for the benefit of Black children and youth who are routinely subjected to structural limitations – rooted in racism – that impede their development and rob them of opportunity.
I invite you, your colleagues, and your students to participate in this important work in the years to come.
More information about NEEP is forthcoming. Until then, try to take care of yourselves.
C COE Students