Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

Action and accountability: Addressing race & equity across the UW

Race & Equity  | April 2017

“It is not — and could never be — the sole responsibility of one person, one office, or one initiative to solve these systemic and complex issues. It will take an ongoing and sustained effort from all of us.” — President Ana Mari Cauce

This call to embrace our shared responsibility to advance equity was echoed by Civil Rights luminary Representive John Lewis during a February lecture at the University of Washington. He exhorted us not to settle, not to accept things as they are, but to act: “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, to stand up.”

President Ana Mari Cauce with Rep. John Lewis at Meany Theater on February 23, 2017. Photo: Angela Carlyle.

President Ana Mari Cauce with Rep. John Lewis at Meany Theater on February 23, 2017. Photo: Angela Carlyle.

At the University of Washington, our renewed commitment to this work began in 2015 with our President’s call to action and the resulting Race & Equity Initiative. We’ve taken action and made progress since then. Last fall we admitted and enrolled the UW’s most diverse class of first-year students ever. We launched a new Diversity Blueprint that outlines UW goals, actions and accountability measures to challenge us to live up to our mission, valuing diversity in perspectives, creating a welcoming environment and promoting broad access and opportunity. And we’re holding ourselves accountable in other ways by establishing new oversight boards for the UW Police Department and a new Regents committee dedicated to ensuring the UW is making progress on equity and inclusion. We also exceeded our goals around partnering with minority and women-owned businesses to provide goods and services to the UW.

While it’s important to note progress, and the hard work of many of you across our three campuses that make such actions possible, it’s equally important to avoid complacency. We have a long way to go, farther than any one initiative or one leader can take us. UW community members, like those featured here, are leading the way in areas ranging from recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, transforming the curriculum to address bias and creating new tools for accountability around equity.

I hope you will join us in this work — recognizing the progress made in the last few years while keeping our eyes on the horizon, taking action and holding ourselves accountable to continue working together towards a more equitable and just university community.

Ana Mari Signature
Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies

Baldasty signature
Gerald J. Baldasty
Provost and Executive Vice President
Professor of Communication

Ed Taylor
Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs
Co-Chair, Race & Equity Initiative
Professor of Education

Rickey Hall Signature
Rickey Hall
Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity
Chief Diversity Officer
Co-Chair, Race & Equity Initiative

Report Sections

Further Reading

Andrews, D. J. C., & Tuitt, F. (2013). Contesting the myth of a “post racial” era: The continued significance of race in U.S. education. New York, NY: Peter Lang International Publishers.

Coates, T. (2014, June). The case for reparations. The Atlantic.

DiAngelo, R. (2014, August 9). What does it mean to be white? The Seattle Times. does-it-mean-to-be-white/

Francis, M. M. (2014). Civil rights and the making of the modern American state. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Gallagher, C. A. (2003). Rethinking the color line: Readings in race and ethnicity. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Harris, D. M., & Kiyama, J. M. (2015). The plight of invisibility: A community based approach to understanding the educational experiences of urban Latina/os. New York, NY: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.

Hollins, C., & Govan, I. (2015). Diversity, equity & inclusion: Strategies for facilitating conversations on race. Washington, DC: Rowman & Littlefield.

Joseph, R. (2012). Transcending blackness: From the new millennium mulatta to the exceptional multiracial. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Matthew, P. A. (Ed.). (2016). Written/unwritten: Diversity and the hidden truths of tenure. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Noguera, P. A., Pierce, J. C., & Ahram, R. (Eds.). (2015). Race, equity, and education: Sixty years from Brown. New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.

Parker, C. S. (2009). Fighting for democracy: Black veterans and the struggle against white supremacy in the postwar south. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Retman, S. (2011). Real folks: Race and genre in the Great Depression. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Rolon-Dow, R., & Irizarry, J. G. (Eds.). (2012). Diaspora studies in education: Toward a framework for understanding the experiences of transnational communities. New York, NY: Peter Lang International Publishers.

Sensoy, O., & DiAngelo, R. (2009). Developing social justice literacy: An open letter to our faculty colleagues. Phi Delta Kappan Magazine, 90(5), 345-52.

Staats, C. (2014). State of the science: Implicit bias review. Columbus, OH: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Tough, P. (2014, May 15). Who gets to graduate? The New York Times Magazine. gets-to-graduate.html?

Ward, J. D., & Rivera, M. A. (2014). Institutional racism, organizations & public policy. New York, NY: Peter Lang International Publishers.


Many thanks to the UW faculty, students and staff who contributed their stories and photos in this report, and to the UW subject matter experts who lend their advice and assistance to this series, including Anne Browning, Sapna Cheryan, Angelina Godoy, Alexes Harris, Marisa Herrera, Juan Guerra, Ralina Joseph, Norma Rodriguez, Anu Taranath and Joy Williamson-Lott.

A special thanks to members of the Race & Equity Initiative Steering Committee: Rickey Hall, co-chair; Ed Taylor, cochair; Chadwick Allen, Aretha Basu, Diana Betancourt, Harry Bruce, William Covington, Arwa Dubad, David L. Eaton, Gabriel Gallardo, Mary Gresch, Gonzalo Guzmán, Soh Yeun (Elloise) Kim, Taejonae (Tae) McKenzie, Beth Kalikoff, Marisa Nickle, Sharon Parker, Terryl Ross, Paul Rucker, Kayesee Schermerhorn, Denzil Suite, Mariama Suwaneh, Dhwani Vekaria, Thaisa Way and Joyce Yen.

Thanks also to colleagues supporting the initiative, including Jeanette James and Leilani Lewis.

Additional contributors to the report series include John D. Burkhardt, Jodene Davis, Elizabeth Lowry and Erin Rowley.

Series Editors
Gerald J. Baldasty, provost and executive vice president
Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean, Undergraduate Academic Affairs
Rickey Hall, chief diversity officer and vice president, Minority Affairs & Diversity
Marisa Nickle, senior director, strategy & academic initiatives, Office of the Provost

Research, Writing, Design, and Photography
Jill Reddish, communications strategist, Office of the Provost
Liz Janssen, graduate student assistant, Office of the Provost
Leilani Lewis, assistant director, diversity communications & outreach, Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, and University Marketing & Communications
Meg Matthews, strategic communications manager, College of the Environment
Katie Kirkland, project manager, strategy & academic initiatives, Office of the Provost
Ignacio Lobos, communications manager, UW-IT
Elizabeth Sharpe, assistant communications director, UW-IT
Brooke Summerlin, graduate student assistant, Office of the Provost