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A Message from the President


October 7, 2021

Dear Members of the Villanova Community,

In July of 2020, Aequitas: The Presidential Task Force on Race was tasked with assessing the racial climate on campus and identifying areas for improvement to enhance the experience of all members of the Villanova community. Over the past 14 months, the Task Force—a cross-section of Villanova students, faculty and staff and alumni—has worked tirelessly to develop a framework to assist Villanova in becoming a destination where people of all backgrounds are welcomed, celebrated and supported.

The Task Force has been comprehensive in its anti-racism efforts—looking at the Villanova experience from all perspectives including academically, socially, professionally, and more. Through this analysis, a framework of eight overarching goals was established, each addressing specific areas within the Villanova experience. These goals include:

  1. Academic Antiracist Evaluation: Encourage all departments and academic programs in all the undergraduate Colleges to undertake a systematic evaluation of the underlying assumptions of their disciplines related to race. 
  2. Race & Justice Course: Develop a required, University-wide course focused on the study of race and racism with specific emphasis on enhancing dialogue across varied groups and perspectives.
  3. Diverse Community: In line with the Strategic Plan: Rooted. Restless., establish systems, structure, policies and practices to attract, hire, enroll and retain more Black and minoritized students, faculty and staff (at all levels) to create a more diverse University community.
  4. Campus Climate: Collect and review climate data related to the experiences of Black and minoritized students, faculty and staff on campus. Special attention will be given to the experiences of students in the classroom, residential and recreational spaces, and within student organizations. 
  5. Race & Policing: Compile data and review policies that potentially impact matters of race and policing on Villanova’s campus to enhance the effectiveness of the Police Oversight Committee.
  6. Student Relations: Ensure that the overall student experience aligns with each objective of the Aequitas Task Force and Antiracism Statement.
  7. Communications: Develop messaging that articulates Villanova’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and antiracism commitments to a diverse and wide range of constituents and illustrates how these commitments are a natural extension of our Augustinian Catholic values and University brand.
  8. Professional Development: Offer faculty and staff ongoing opportunities for professional development to expand and deepen antiracism literacy across campus.

To date, much progress has been made toward each of these goals, three of which are highlighted below:

  • Academic Antiracist Evaluation: This summer, a checklist of various measures that colleges and departments can undertake as part of the anti-racist academic evaluation. Each of the six colleges is very different both in disciplines and in its structures; therefore, the next step is a Dean-to-Dean consultation to discuss how this antiracist evaluation might work in their particular college.
  • University Race & Justice Course: This fall, Villanova is piloting a new course titled “History of Race” taught by Dr. Hibba Abugideiri and Dr. Sherry Bowen. The innovative course was designed to intentionally include a significant dialogue component. The course is being proposed as a university-wide requirement with iterations offered through each college of the University. 
  • Professional Development: A new staff professional development series—Aequitas: Community Foundations—will be available starting next week. The series consists of four short online courses, followed by an invitation to participate in a facilitated discussion for staff to understand, discuss and explore their roles in creating and maintaining a more inclusive Villanova. The discussions are an opportunity to further our commitment to being an antiracist community through resources and action.

These updates are just a sampling of the progress the Task Force has made since its inception. For a more comprehensive understanding of their work to date, I encourage all community members to attend the Aequitas webinar scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m.

I am encouraged and excited by the incredible work of the Task Force thus far and look forward to seeing their progress as we move through this academic year. I am extremely grateful for their efforts on behalf of the Villanova community—helping us to ignite change on our campus and beyond.