New Year, New Opportunities

By Dr. Makini King, Interim Vice-Chancellor and Director of  the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion

The Autumn season is my favorite season. The blistering heat subsides, cooler weather prevails, the daylight shortens, the sharp greens, pinks and reds of summer make way for the muted, yet profound beauty of yellows, oranges and browns, and nature readies itself for the harvest. While it may be quite easy to dwell on the impending winter season, by doing so, I believe we risk missing out on truly appreciating the fruits of our diligent labor through the growing season. The last nearly two years was indeed a muddled mess of crises and this Fall, more than ever, we may be able to finally reflect on how hard everyone worked to pull through.

If it is not clear already, UMKC strives to ensure that our culture and climate are supportive of everyone. Crises notwithstanding UMKC saw an opportunity over the past year and half to seize the momentum of this particular growing season to build and rebuild for the better, for all of us.

There are many initiatives and programs to watch out for this year that support our DEI efforts on campus.

Roos Advocate for Community Change began in the Summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and the nation’s renewed illumination of the unrelenting ill-effects of racism. The initiative promotes thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive change. A few of the initiatives include the Critical Conversations panel series, mandatory trainings on bias and microaggressions for all UMKC employees, listening sessions and actions plans for minoritized students and staff, as well as the creation of the Faculty Search Support Team, a group tasked with helping search committees engage in inclusive hiring practices.

This year we are also implementing another new and exciting initiative. We are building out the Chancellor’s Diversity Council to provide better representation of groups across campus. The Council will have formal representation from each school, academic units, administrative units, students, community members and affinity groups. This effort aims to provide improved collaboration, communication and support across academic and administrative units related to UMKC’s DEI goals.

There are many wonderful opportunities to get involved this year. You should always look out for our annual lectures, but if you are interested in engaging on a more community-based and personal level, consider joining one of our Affinity Groups or our Diversity Advocates program. You might even think about joining in on the amazing DEI efforts happening in your very own school or unit.