Acknowledgement of Understanding and Commitment: LMU’s Response to Black at LMU’s Demands and the Black Faculty and Staff Association’s “Actions ‘Beyond Words’”

At this point in history, we need critical conversations about race that are
both raw and illuminate the major points of racial contention today.”
Black at LMU Demands

The Black at LMU students’ and the Black Faculty and Staff Association’s (BFSA) respective demands are documents that will help change the course of our history. In conjunction with, and complementary to, LMU’s Anti-Racism Project, these demands provide a roadmap to guide and inform a comprehensive vision of what anti-racism means for, and at, LMU. Together, these efforts challenge the university to play a meaningful role in a movement many years in the making.

As we respond to the demands of Black at LMU and the BFSA, we include the entire LMU community—our commitment to being proactively anti-racist is necessarily a community-wide effort that benefits everyone. Accordingly, each of us must do our part to create a more just and equitable LMU. This is neither partisan nor reactionary; this is who we are. Our Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount identity and university mission impel us to be persons for and with others, acting out of our faith—inclusive of our varied religious traditions and worldviews—toward social justice for all.

We recognize impatience with the “institutional inertia that is historically, consciously, and strategically used to resist change,” as stated in BFSA’s demands; we also appreciate the acknowledgement that “some items can be accomplished more quickly than others.” We ask for the community to keep working with us to realize our goals, as rushing or bypassing certain processes may keep us from realizing fully what we intend to accomplish. The changes we enact will be made through prayerful discernment, close consultation, and extraordinary care.

We are pleased to share that meaningful change is coming, and in some cases, is already here, in large part because of colleagues’ and students’ steadfast investment in this university-wide priority.

We have categorized our responses in three levels that correspond to the threefold commitments (inclusive hiring, climate and culture, and education) outlined in Beyond Words and further developed in the Anti-Racism Project:

  1. Immediate actions and concrete commitments;
  2. Intermediate actions to be implemented, but not immediately;
  3. Actions that will be taken requiring further processes.

Inclusive Hiring (including recruitment/admissions, faculty hires, and leadership diversity)

  1. Immediate actions and concrete commitments
    • During the present hiring freeze, exceptions will be made for opportunity hires on a case-by-case basis.
    • Opportunity hire briefings are available for all units with any approved searches through Intercultural Affairs and Human Resources. This briefing includes the legal restrictions that serve as necessary parameters for LMU hiring strategies.
    • The provost approved Dean Robbin Crabtree’s request to retain the BCLA President’s Professor line and has authorized the initiation of a process for filling that position.
    • Creation of a new Center for Service and Action (CSA) position to create service and justice opportunities with Black community-based organizations (CBOs) in Los Angeles. A search will commence pending hiring approval.
    • The leadership in Enrollment Management will evaluate the staffing and responsibility levels required for achieving newly set goals for recruiting black students. They will work with Human Resources through the regular processes to make any appropriate adjustments to the positions that are affected.
    • The Black Student Overnight, one of our highest yielding Admission programs, will continue in spring 2021 (pending reopening) in addition to other events for Black students through Enrollment Management.
  1. Intermediate actions to be implemented
    • Admission will identify and partner with community colleges to add to the Pathway program to increase the number of Black students from different backgrounds and perspectives recruited to LMU.
  1. Actions that will be taken requiring further processes
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) cluster-hire strategies will be discussed with colleges/schools pending full enrollment and reopening (post COVID-19).
    • Our anti-racist commitments will inform our selection of the interdisciplinary faculty clusters as part of the Capital Campaign. This will impact faculty hiring strategies for future interdisciplinary clusters.

Climate and Culture (inclusive spaces; support; accountability)

  1. Immediate actions and concrete commitment
    • The criteria and process for establishing a Black Faculty and Staff Hall of Fame will be developed in close collaboration with the African American Alumni Association (AAAA).
    • LMU will make an ongoing commitment to creating a dedicated space for Black students. We will begin by offering the Bird Nest as a temporary location for this space. As university master planning processes unfold, we will work closely with the Black community to identify an appropriate future location for dedicated Black student space needs.
    • The membership of the Committee on Public Arts and Images will be expanded to be more comprehensively inclusive.
    • Plans to replace artwork in high impact public spaces will be accelerated. Artwork presently displayed in University Hall will be removed until replacements can be installed.
    • A new Public Safety Advisory Committee for the LMU community is being formed.
    • The Provost’s Office will provide an institutional membership and develop coordinated programming for all faculty to access programs provided by the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development.
  1. Intermediate actions to be implemented
    • LMU will examine experiences of anti-Black racism and discrimination as part of its next Climate Survey, currently planned for 2021-22.
    • The university will undertake salary equity studies for faculty (2021-22) and staff (2022-23) over the next couple of years.
    • The Provost’s Office, in collaboration with the deans and Faculty Senate, will review eligibility criteria and the process for inclusion in the LMU Faculty Hall of Fame with the intent of ensuring that the selection process embraces and appropriately honors LMU faculty of color who have made outstanding, distinguished contributions to the university and society.
    • The university will launch an Inclusive History and Images Project to recognize LMU’s diverse stories, gathering images from the LMU archives, inviting alumni to share their memories, photos, and perspectives on LMU and exploring the Jesuit history and legacy in Los Angeles, with the leadership and support of the Jesuit Community.
    • As part of the Student Affairs campaign goal, and in collaboration with the university, Student Affairs commits to raising $2 million to endow The Learning Community (TLC) program.
  1. Actions that will be taken requiring further processes
    • Creation of a DEI Data Working Group to provide university leadership with recommendations for the identification, collection, sharing, and dissemination of disaggregated data. This working group will be led by Assistant Vice Provost Jennifer Belichesky-Larson, with recommendations to be provided by February 2021.
    • Following the DEI Data Working Group recommendations, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) dashboard will be developed to facilitate sharing of DEI information and promote equity-oriented decision-making at LMU.
    • Exploration of the development of a fundraising plan with University Advancement to provide additional support for Black initiatives.
    • As the enrollment of Black students increases, the Office of Black Student Services’ (OBSS) budget will be increased appropriately.


  1. Immediate actions and concrete commitments
    • A monthly Virtual Forum series is planned for 2020-21 to promote campus-wide dialogue, awareness, and education on issues related to anti-racism.
        • The first virtual forum, “Whose Free Speech?: A Campus-Wide Dialogue on Free Speech, Personal Responsibility, and Impacts on Anti-Black Racism,” will be held on September 15, from 2-3:30 p.m.
    • Orientation program modules were developed this summer for transfer students and new first year students on anti-racism; they are being implemented this fall 2020.
    • Support for faculty in incorporating anti-racism into pedagogy and curriculum has been developed in collaboration with the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and the Office of Mission and Ministry: CTE offers drop-in four-session series for fall 2020, as well as two Faculty Learning Communities (e.g., Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, and Thinking Toward the Third University: Anti-Racist and Anti-Imperialist Pedagogies).
  1. Intermediate actions
    • A 10-hour online January workshop series is under development by faculty for faculty, to offer an intensive peer-driven opportunity to delve further into anti-racism and decolonization in the curriculum.
  1. Actions that will be taken requiring further processes
    • The Academic Program Review Committee and Provost’s Office will collaborate to include an examination of DEI issues in programs and curriculum as part of regular academic program review processes.
    • The university will explore approaches for providing additional support for offsetting fees for co-sponsored activities with faculty working with CBOs in Los Angeles.
    • Vice Provost Roberta Espinoza will facilitate campus conversations on how anti-racism and Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (GDEI) values can inform global-local curriculum and co-curriculum educational opportunities.

As mentioned in President Snyder’s Welcome Back message earlier this week, Vice President Abe will share our progress with the community on these issues and more in regular updates during the semester. The first column will appear in LMU This Week on Tuesday, September 8, and will discuss the systemic analysis process and virtual forum series.

This is a moment when our mission calls on us not just to do better, but to play a leadership role in correcting the persisting evils of society’s systemic racism. This is our chance to be the place that did not merely “do the work,” but one that succeeded and evolved to exemplify the equity and justice we want to see in the world, becoming a place that is proactively anti-racist. We have a responsibility and a duty to get this right—and we will. Together.

In solidarity, strength—and, always, love,

Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.

Jennifer Abe, Ph.D.
Vice President for Intercultural Affairs