Published on June 15, 2020 by The department chairs of Howard College of Arts and Sciences  
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Howard College of Arts and Sciences Chairs Statement of Support for the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives, Its Purpose, Work and Ongoing Initiatives

As department chairs within Howard College of Arts and Sciences we are impressed by and want to express our full commitment to and support for the work of Samford’s Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives.

The email sent out by Dr. Denise Gregory on Thursday, June 4, 2020, with its attachment, serves as a testimony to the tremendous work that is being done at present and the advances that we see on the horizon, thanks to her work, the work of her office, and the collaboration she is receiving from across our campus.

Among various other achievements, we note the administration’s commitment to requiring diversity training for all employees at the beginning of the semester and the establishment of a new task force to continue to work toward reconciliation and to recognize the impact of Black Americans and other underrepresented groups at Samford University as excellent developments. The unlimited range of issues the task force will address (including campus training and education, hiring processes and compensation, curriculum development and delivery, promotion and tenure, vendor contracts, and the recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty and staff) speaks to just how significant an initiative this will be for our community.

The six-pages-long bullet list of “Examples of Work Related to Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives at Samford University” reflects an extraordinary amount of work carried out by her office, especially given its limited size. We are tremendously grateful for all that has been accomplished and for the new initiatives that are being created.

In light of all that has been accomplished but also in light of all that remains to be done, we are also extremely pleased by the recent news that Dr. Denise Gregory and Dr. Garry Atkins are joining Samford’s Executive Leadership Team to work together with other colleagues on these crucial issues. The addition of new staff to the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives in order to support its ongoing and expanded work, is also wonderful news that we affirm.

Dean Tim Hall recently wrote a moving statement about his grief at “the stark reminders of the realities of inequality and prejudice that frame so much of the daily experience of our African American brothers and sisters.” Writing on behalf of the Dean’s Office, he stated:

As leaders within the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, we pledge to act and speak against the sinful curse of systemic racism. We further pledge our continued support for Dr. Gregory and Dr. Atkins in the expanded leadership roles that they have accepted.

As Department Chairs within Howard College of Arts and Sciences we are grateful for the leadership of our Dean and we also affirm our deepest appreciation for the work that has been done and the new initiatives that are being developed. We commit ourselves to working towards the same goals within our departments on both curricular and co-curricular levels. We pledge our wholehearted support to the work of Drs. Gregory and Atkins and the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives, and we stand in solidarity with them as together we “work toward a Samford that reflects the equity, justice, and love of our God.”

Signed (unanimously, listed in alphabetical order by department)

  • Anthony Overton, Chair, Biological and Environmental Sciences
  • Roy Ciampa, Chair, Biblical and Religious Studies
  • Chris Pursell, Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Randy Todd, Chair, Classics
  • Brad Busbee, Chair, English
  • Jennifer Speights-Binet, Chair, Geography and Sociology
  • Jonathan Den Hartog, Chair, History
  • Ignatius Fosu, Chair, Journalism and Mass Communication and Communication Studies
  • Jeffrey Powell, Interim Chair, Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Dennis Sansom, Chair, Philosophy
  • Don Olive, Chair, Physics
  • Lee Trepanier, Chair, Political Science
  • Jack Berry, Chair, Psychology
  • Grant Henley, Chair, World Languages and Cultures