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Standifird updates progress on diversity and inclusion initiatives

In a new initiative, the foyer of the Garrett Center will be devoted to telling the history of cultural diversity at Bradley and of the building’s namesake, Romeo B. Garrett. Photo by Anthony Landahl

Following a promise to be a catalyst toward improving diversity and inclusion on Bradley’s campus earlier in June, university president Stephen Standifird provided an update for the initiatives in a July 1 email to students, staff and faculty.

Standifird listed 16 members appointed to the Racial Equity Advisory Group, which will help identify future inclusivity actions. The group will be led by 1984 MBA graduate Glenn Ross and features Bradley University Black Alumni Alliance president Tracy Walker and Adrian Alvarez, president of the Bradley Association of International and Latino Alumni.

The group also includes six Bradley students. Among them are student body president Emma Hoyhtya as well as president of the Black Student Alliance and Bradley NAACP co-president Nailah Brown.

The Garrett Center will receive exterior landscaping and rebranding updates, while its first-floor technology, carpet and paint will be refined. Standifird also added that the foyer of the Garrett Center will be devoted to telling the history of cultural diversity at Bradley and of the building’s namesake, Romeo B. Garrett, the first Black individual to receive a master’s degree from the university and the first Black professor in the university’s history.

Lastly, Standifird said Bradley had extended six full-ride scholarship offers to students from Peoria Public Schools for the 2020-21 academic year. He said he will continue to work with PPS superintendent Sharon Kherat and high school counselors to select candidates for the 2021-22 academic year.

“To be clear, these are initial steps designed to move us in a positive direction,” Standifird stated in the email. “I am absolutely committed to creating an inclusive environment where all of our students, faculty and staff feel welcome. This is not the end of a process, but the beginning of sustained change in how we treat one another as members of the Bradley family.”

In an interview prior to the update, Norris Chase, executive director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a member of the Racial Equity Advisory Group, said that underrepresented students are more likely to face more risky, costly and uncertain circumstances when attaining a degree than other students.

“Understanding this, in order for Bradley to actualize their aspirations of promoting a more inclusive and equitable environment for all students, historically underrepresented students should feel welcomed across campus in every way,” Chase said. “There is an incredible amount of work to do in order to attain this reality, but I believe that positive change is possible.”

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