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Establish an External Advisory Board for the Black Thriving Initiative and Office of Inclusive Excellence Speakers Bureau

The Initiative requires a coherent strategy and purposeful execution to succeed. This is particularly the case in Orange County where Black people comprise a little less than 2% of the general population of 3 million or 60,000 people. The size of the Black community requires a strategy that is simultaneously focused and broad; engaging with Orange County while reaching Black population centers, including Los Angeles, Bay Area, and Sacramento, across the state and the nation.

To facilitate this engagement, an external board will advise Vice Chancellor Haynes. Meeting up to three times a year, the goals of this council include:

  • To share information and identify areas for campus and community coordination to increase college going and success among Black students;
  • To elevate attention and awareness about UCI in promoting thriving communities
  • To serve as a platform to advocate for inclusive excellence.

There are several existing organizations that are committed to creating a Black Thriving culture at UCI. Many include UCI alumni as well as current and past faculty and staff employees. Among these include the UCI Black Faculty and Staff Association, UCI Black Alumni Chapter, the African American Alumni Council, Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce, OC 100 Black Men, UC Council of African American Families, and Christ Our Redeemer Church and Second Baptist Church, local chapters of national Black fraternities and sororities.

Led by the Office of Inclusive Excellence, these countywide efforts must be conjoined to a state and national strategy. The appointment of former UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake as President of the University of California, presents an unparalleled opportunity to execute a focused communication and engagement effort. Critical to elevating the visibility of the campus commitment to Black Thriving Culture is to communicate the Initiative and update Black organizations that serve Black communities throughout the state. The communication modalities range from email, social media, web-based meetings and webinars, to appropriate physical distanced in-person events. This has to be reinforced with the visible engagement of UCI representatives, spanning from campus and academic leaders to faculty and alumni. The purpose in communicating the Initiative is to introduce audiences to the impressive achievements of the campus and tying our future to the success of Black people.

This strategy and its execution must work in coordination with the year-around activities of campus and academic units. The former includes admissions, advancement, athletics, government relations, and strategic communications among others. Academic units will play a crucial role in two ways. First, academic schools must develop communication plans and online materials around the Initiative for their own platforms. It is important that the Initiative is present on the public-facing websites beyond a link to the dedicated Initiative website. Second, the planned Office of Inclusive Excellence Speakers Bureau will provide deans with a vehicle to connect faculty to dedicated outreach activities in the wider community in the state and nation. This bureau will recruit faculty who are committed to the Initiative, prepared to discuss why it matters to them, and discuss how their research and teaching advances the Black experience and the drivers of well-being of Black communities. Participation in the bureau should be recognized in the faculty review process as contributing to inclusive activities for merit and promotion reviews. If travel is required, the Office of Inclusive Excellence will provide reimbursement for travel and overnight lodging as well as a nominal honorarium in the form of an allocation to their research account.