UNF Leading on Issues of Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion
As president of the faculty at the University of North Florida, I believe that our university that the University of North Florida should stand for more than being "the jobs school." That identity does nothing to make us unique; rather, every institution of higher education can speak to preparing its students for careers. Uncritically preparing future workers is tantamount to being hegemonic. Instead, I posit that our university can and should seize this historic moment and become a champion for social justice, diversity, and inclusion. Doing so is the right thing to do AND it is good for jobs.
Changing the Culture at UNF
Efforts to integrate social justice and diversity pedagogies at UNF have included the "Difficult Conversations" series, department- and college-wide book discussions, the integration of select texts into programs of study, and the hiring of a Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion.
These efforts are noble and worthwhile, but they are not enough. We need a concerted and ongoing movement to forge social justice into UNF's identity!
Advocating for Change at the Top
Throughout my tenure as president of the UNF faculty--and as a member of the UNF Board of Trustees--I have pushed to move UNF's identity toward one that reflects the values of our faculty and that is represented in the Gandhi statue so prominently displayed on campus.
We need to pressure the BOT to see that this movement is not temporary but instead reflects what could be a paradigm shift. UNF needs to be leading rather than following.