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Loyola appoints Presidential Task Force for Racial Justice Training

| By Nick Alexopulos
Loyola University Maryland march for racial justice
Loyola students gathered at a rally for racial justice in December 2014.

The Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland, has appointed a group of faculty, students, staff, and administrators to serve on a task force charged with developing recommendations for racial justice training for all members of the Loyola community.

“As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we must be particularly passionate about getting to the heart of the issue of racial justice and creating an open, welcoming environment for all students and employees. We have no room for racism or intolerance here,” said Fr. Linnane. “Through training, and through the many current and future opportunities I know will be offered on campus for further conversation on racial justice, I am confident we will emerge as a more welcoming, more inclusive community.”

The Presidential Task Force for Racial Justice Training will advise the president on training best practices and implementation with attention to the specific needs for faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Training was identified as a priority by Susan M. Donovan, Ph.D., executive vice president, when she and other campus leaders met in November 2015 with Loyola students who had themselves experienced harmful remarks or witnessed insensitive statements directed at students of color.

“I have had hundreds of discussions over my time here, but this was one of the frankest discussions I have ever had with students—and I am so grateful to them for speaking with honesty and courage,” Donovan wrote in a message to the Loyola community after the meeting. “As I listened to the students, I realized that we as a community are not living up to the values that we profess.”

The task force members are:

  • Heather Z. Lyons, Ph.D., professor of psychology (chair)
  • Eric Baker, ’18, undergraduate student majoring in theology
  • Seán Bray, director of Campus Ministry
  • Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., associate professor of law and social responsibility and assistant to the president for mission integration
  • Sylvia C. Doud, graduate student pursuing an M.Ed. in school counseling
  • Alicia Espinal-Mesa, ’18, undergraduate student majoring in political science
  • Ernest Hankerson, maintenance and motor pool assistant driver for the department of parking and transportation
  • Adanna Johnson-Evans, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology
  • Hong-yu Li, administrative assistant for ALANA Services
  • Maryalice Meister, director of generalist services in the office of human resources
  • Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., associate professor of education in the school counseling program
  • Timothy O’Brien, S.J., visiting assistant professor of theology
  • Rodney Parker, director of ALANA Services
  • Christina Spearman, Ed.D., director of the office of student life

The task force is currently researching best practices for racial justice training on college and university campuses across the country. The goal is to begin training for all members of the Loyola community in fall 2016.

With the launch of the task force, Loyola is strengthening its commitment to fostering a substantive, campus-wide conversation on racial justice and inspiring meaningful, positive action that extends into the community and beyond. Recently, Loyola added and enhanced strategic priorities in its ongoing $100 million Bright Minds, Bold Hearts comprehensive fundraising campaign to focus more of the overall goal on initiatives that will benefit Baltimore City. Weekly Conversations in Grey invite members of the Loyola community to talk about race in an informal setting, and numerous other events held throughout the past year have engaged the Loyola and Baltimore community on this issue.

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