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Dear CVPA Colleagues, Students and Families, and Alumni,

I am outraged by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others by those who are sworn to protect. I am disheartened and angry at the violence shown against those who are peacefully protesting the widespread and systemic racial injustice in our country. It is a time to take action and to redouble our efforts to fight racism and to eradicate it from our College, our University, and ultimately our society.

Together we can build a College of Visual and Performing Arts at UNCG that is committed to dismantling the legacy of white supremacy in higher education; that is steeped in a sense of justice and equity through our policies and our practices; that protects the dignity, individuality, and safety of our students at every turn; and that is actively anti-racist in our decision-making. We must overturn the dominant paradigm and build a new system founded on equality and respect for all. We have made mistakes in the past. We have a long way to go. But our efforts to live up to these non-negotiable standards have begun in earnest.

We must have a diverse faculty representing our society at large, providing professional mentoring for all of our students and broadening our curricular perspectives. We must ensure that our faculty and staff fully reflect, respect, and advance the values of our College to fight against racism and for equality. Last fall we implemented a new set of policies and procedures to diversify our faculty and staff. All search committees have an underrepresented faculty member or a current or past member of the CVPA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee and student members. The EDI Committee drafted a “Successful Practices” document, which together with the new procedures have become the backbone of the search process. Every search committee member is required to complete Diversity EDU training to address implicit bias. We spend time with every faculty search committee in reviewing how to run an unbiased search, and any search that does not have a diverse pool of applicants is extended.

As a result of this intentional, shared effort involving faculty, staff, and students, 3 of our 9 searches this year resulted in hiring professors of color, and 2 of our 5 staff searches resulted in hiring staff of color, thus reversing a trend of declining numbers of professors and staff of color. Our work is not over, and we have just begun. We have set goals for next year and where we aim to be in five years.

We are committed to listening to our students and to decolonizing our curriculum. At the very soul of the UNCG CVPA is a diverse student body rich in talent, individualism, and creativity. To cultivate fully the capabilities of this incredible student body, the academic environment must be culturally inclusive, safe, and responsive. Individual dignity, mutual respect, and a deep understanding of who we are, are vital to our creative success. We can and will do better to ensure that our students find in our College a place that holds itself to the highest, most rigorous standards in all these areas.

I am acutely aware that we need to do more. I know that there are very immediate, pressing issues related to certain actions of our faculty and staff regarding treatment of our students. The voices that have until now been unheard or silenced and the issues that until now have been ignored or dismissed are now front and center as we look at our College. I and others are actively addressing these issues that have been raised recently on social media and in other communications. We take your feedback to heart and are investigating fully and fairly. We will not tolerate racism in our College, and all of us must take actions to reflect this commitment.

Racism will not be tolerated in our College, and my hope is that we can turn our personal anger into positive collective action. I look forward to working with you in this fight for justice and equality.

— Dr. bruce d. mcclung, Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts