‘Roots of Racism’ just the beginning. Community, UD has a long way to go in addressing systematic racism

“We have a long way to go, but we are encouraged by the way UD has recognized where it must change and is taking concrete actions to build a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable University of Dayton for the future,” University of Dayton President says.

The “Roots of Racism” web series presented by a host of community organizations in October explored the history of racism in Dayton so that the current situation, in which systemic racism persists in prominent Dayton institutions, their policies, and even within existing law, can be better understood.

As we all know, understanding the history of something is essential if it is to be improved.

Eric F. Spina is President of the University of Dayton.
Eric F. Spina is President of the University of Dayton.

Neither the series nor any of the sponsors would claim that racism and racist systems are confined to the past.

In fact, the final session focused on the reality of systemic racism today and how it impacts people in Dayton.

As president of the University of Dayton, I can state unequivocally that our history and our current reality, in which we are not as diverse as we want to be and equity can be elusive, motivate the trustees, faculty, staff, and administration to work hard every day to resolve the issues and inequities that exist at UD.

We are proud that the implementation of both our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan and our anti-racist action plan are beginning to make a difference at the University of Dayton.

As the Dayton Daily News reported in November, “UD gains record number of minority students, surpass national average,” our efforts are resulting in real change for our student body.

Since 2011, the number of underrepresented racial/ethnic undergraduate students is up 98%, Black student enrollment has increased 38%, the number of students receiving Pell grants is up 74%, the graduation rate gap between Black students and that of the full cohort is closing, and first-to-second year retention is now at par.

Key to these efforts is our commitment to local students through Flyer Promise at local high schools and the UD Sinclair Academy. Further, we are critically reviewing UD’s systems and acting to revise policies, modify curricula, educate faculty and staff, advance faculty and staff hiring initiatives, and engage the Black community meaningfully with initiatives such as the Greater West Dayton Incubator and supplier diversity efforts.

We have a long way to go, but we are encouraged by the way UD has recognized where it must change and is taking concrete actions to build a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable University of Dayton for the future.

Eric F. Spina is president of University of Dayton.