A message from IANR leadership

UNL Pillar
June 15, 2020

Dear IANR Community,

The leadership of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has spent the past three weeks examining our commitment and barriers to promoting racial justice and our capacity to eliminate systemic racism. We are listening and will continue to listen to our Black colleagues. We are engaging in our own self-awareness and learning. We are unpacking what it has meant for people of color to experience years of oppression, inequality, pain, and loss. Most recently, we have been reminded of the systemic treatment of Black Americans with the senseless, tragic deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And we recognize that they are but the most recent additions to a grim roster of victims.

We reaffirm our commitment to take additional and intentional steps towards making IANR and Nebraska agriculture more inclusive for those who feel the impacts of bias, racism, microaggressions, and other forms of oppression. These next steps must include activities that increase our understanding of inequities and racism that in the past we have either not seen or have not acknowledged. We will continue to listen and to look for partners in our efforts to create an environment where everyone has opportunity, where everyone is valued, and where everyone feels safe. This is a real opportunity for all of us to be better colleagues, community members, neighbors, leaders, and educators.

Some immediate steps we are taking:

  • The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is moving aggressively to re-establish its chapter of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences). CASNR is also expanding its college-wide book club discussion to focus on racism and whiteness, and will offer workshops and programming on inclusive teaching and learning and implicit bias such as Ouch! and Step UP! Bystander Intervention Training.
  • The College of Education and Human Sciences is providing resources for college faculty, staff, and students to learn about racial justice. CEHS has begun to review its policies and practices that may contribute to marginalization and domination. CEHS has also started the process of identifying systems and practices that need to be in place to achieve inclusive excellence.
  • Nebraska Extension’s Reaching One, Reaching All team has engaged with extension leadership and is actively working to facilitate conversations between extension colleagues and Nebraska communities. Extension staff are also actively working to identify barriers that minority and marginalized communities face in accessing Nebraska Extension programs and opportunities.
  • IANR’s Agricultural Research Division has modified its new faculty orientation to include a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We recognize that these are small steps, but together with those outlined recently by Chancellor Green, they are steps toward racial justice, equity, and equality. We realize that by sending this message today, we are making a long-term commitment and must hold ourselves accountable to follow through. We will post updates on these and other related efforts at https://ianr.unl.edu/diversity, which also includes links to resources and actions already in motion within IANR. Members of the IANR community may also offer suggestions, feedback and concerns through a form on this page. Comments may be left anonymously.

Open dialogue among IANR administrators, students, faculty, and staff will make our journey more successful. We welcome your ideas, questions and feedback as we work toward a more inclusive, more accessible, and more just IANR.

Mike Boehm (mboehm3@unl.edu)
Ron Yoder (ryoder2@unl.edu)
Richard Bischoff (rbischoff2@unl.edu)
Archie Clutter (aclutter2unl.edu)
Tiffany Heng-Moss (thengmoss2@unl.edu)
Chuck Hibberd (chibberd1@unl.edu)
Sherri Jones (sjones6@unl.edu)