Letter from USFSM

Dear Campus Community,

In 1975, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s founding year, much of the country was experiencing political unrest. The civil rights movement had ushered in new era of freedom for many, but the residual effects of decades of marginalization, racial disparity, and gender inequity could still be evidenced. The role of the public university was pivotal for creating social change during this era and, in many ways, helped us all make sense of a new political and social climate. The higher education experience is, and always has been, rooted in freedom of expression and inclusivity for all ideas.

Throughout the past 40 years, much has changed—nationally, locally, and even at our own beloved institution. But one thing has remained consistent since USFSM’s founding—our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have always been and always will be a university deeply invested in our local community.  As the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee enters into the next 40 years of academic excellence, we strive to ensure that our university is reflective of our own diverse region and prepares our students to enter a diverse global workforce, creating change in times where change is very much needed.

Because of the central role of higher education in creating change, it should come as no surprise that universities across the nation have faced a host of challenges in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. From increased reports of sexual violence against women to concerns of racial inequity and beyond, colleges and universities have necessarily had to critically reflect upon their commitment to creating a safe and inclusive learning experience for all.

With a full understanding that these issues are of central importance to the mission, values, and future of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, we have commissioned a strategic taskforce to help ensure that USFSM remains on the forefront of best practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion and to ensure that our future advances upon the foundation we set in our past. This taskforce—the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—is comprised of some of USFSM’s most dedicated faculty, staff, and student allies. These individuals have been charged with helping ensure that USFSM remains progressively committed to inclusivity— from the classroom to the boardroom and beyond. Though USFSM’s commitment to diversity is institution-wide, this taskforce will help ensure the voices of everyone in our campus community are heard and validated.

Thankfully, we are not starting from scratch. Like our system colleagues at USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Health, USF Sarasota-Manatee has fiercely championed the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our Core Curriculum includes a required Diversity and Community Engagement sequence, ensuring our students graduate with the skills needed to succeed in a diverse workforce. Our faculty, staff, and student populations are increasingly diverse, representing a host of different backgrounds, identities, experiences, and ideas. Our Focus on Quality 2020 Strategic Plan outlines our invested commitment to diversity in the years to come. In short—USFSM has demonstrated its commitment to inclusive academic excellence.

Still, we recognize that there is room to grow and expand our efforts. With the help of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, We hope to ensure that USFSM remains passionately committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. But these efforts cannot be bound to a committee alone—they must be adopted by the entire campus community. Together, we must speak out against inequity. We must ensure that the voices of those who have been silenced are heard. We must ensure that our university is reflective of our incredibly diverse local community. We must ensure that our future growth reflects and builds upon our foundational commitment to diversity.

Ultimately, we must recognize that our differences make us stronger and better. By working together, we can ensure that the next 40 years at USFSM take us to new levels of excellence, none of which are possible without a deeply invested commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope you will join us in ensuring that the legacy of our next 40 years and beyond reflects our commitment to these important initiatives.

Sincerely,

University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee