Alumni

Introducing the Ursinus Alumni Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group

A statement from Ava Willis-Barksdale
Associate Vice President for Advancement

Dear Ursinus Alumni,

I am a recent transplant to Ursinus College (since January 1, 2019). Though I work in Advancement now, I spent many years leading diversity/inclusion work in previous positions in higher education and, by virtue of my ethnic background, tend to find myself involved in discussions and activities surrounding this topic with great frequency. Not unlike many liberal arts colleges in the United States, Ursinus states, in its mission, that students would become “independent, responsible, and thoughtful.” Further, its Diversity Statement notes, simply, that “Ursinus College is committed to the celebration of and respect for human diversity.” Each of you have your own unique memories of your experiences at Ursinus and how they reflect these statements. As alumni of Ursinus, you have undoubtedly benefited from the sound educational foundation set for you while in this place. You may never have been asked how, as a student (now alumnus/a) of color, you might reflect on these particular statements of the college and how they support diversity and inclusion.

So, let’s be honest. Statements about diversity and inclusion do not always drive action. Alumni who have strong interests in these topics must remind the college of its commitments to its current students who will soon join each of you in the alumni ranks. The value of becoming engaged in the solution to the continuing challenges related to diversity and inclusion is hard to quantify. However, the lives of current and future diverse students at Ursinus can be positively impacted by your involvement.The comradery among alumni from diverse backgrounds can be enriched by your involvement. And, ultimately, the messages to share with students to be recruited in the future about the Ursinus position on diversity and inclusion can be shaped by your involvement. It is the work of the Advancement team – specifically Alumni Relations and Annual Giving – to provide an appropriate forum for your questions, your input, and your stories of success.

These are challenging times. As recently as June, 2020, President Blomberg and the current Student Government President, Jalen Everette ’22, released a message, entitled We Must Do Better, in the midst of so much turmoil that noted, in part:

“Because we both share and support the values of Ursinus, let us be clear: this is an issue that defines who we are as a campus. At its very core, racial injustice threatens the safety, well-being and progress of all marginalized communities that have, for far too long, been left to fight this battle alone. We speak often of the four questions at Ursinus, and it is time that we apply those questions to this critical matter in a constructive way among one another. We have faith that uncomfortable conversations, sobering as they may be, will lead the faculty, staff and students of Ursinus to a greater understanding of the painful inequalities that divide us. We need to empower our students to lead that dialogue and to channel that pride and passion in a way that provides guidance for us all.”

While Ursinus is not my alma mater, I certainly hope that each of you will make a decision to use your voice to support each other, enlighten the college, and build stronger alumni engagement among alumni of color and beyond by being active members of this working group. We stand ready, in Advancement, to hear you and support you, as well.

Sincerely,

Ava Willis-Barksdale
Associate Vice President for Advancement

To read more and apply to join the Ursinus Alumni Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group, click here.