June Community Letter: A day to remember; a year to embrace
As we engage in Pride month activities and prepare for the Juneteenth holiday, I want to remind you that each one of us is part of building something spectacular at University of the Pacific. I know this to be true because you are here, and you are moving us in the right direction.
Fifty Pacificans recently gathered for our Second Annual DEI Leadership Retreat at our lovely Sacramento Campus in Oak Park for an immersive, community learning experience. Student, staff, faculty, and regent leaders co-mingled together with a singular purpose: to help Pacific be a national model for diversity, equity and inclusion.
We divided our retreat into two segments: an institutional immersion for DEI with Pacific leaders in the morning, and a community immersion for DEI with local leaders in the afternoon.
In the morning we heard updates on the Board of Regents DEI priorities and our progress toward becoming a Hispanic-serving institution, along with updates from our partners in the McGeorge School of Law, College of the Pacific, School of Health Sciences, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy. We also learned what it means to live by the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) framework.
We spent our afternoon visiting key historical sites in Oak Park, a diverse and thriving community. With the leadership of St. Hope, a community economic accelerator, Oak Park has resisted economic development efforts that can displace certain communities through gentrification.
Instead, Oak Park is thriving because of a DEI-conscious lens: St. Hope has enacted an economic justice model for education reform, business and entrepreneur development, strategic real estate acquisition and other quality of life enhancements that ‘uplift’ the community that has resided there for generations.
My highlight of the day was hearing the joy of a beautiful community elder, "Mother Rose" Johnson (mother of Kevin Johnson, former mayor of Sacramento, NBA legend, and beloved son of the Oak Park community) as she shared why Underground Books matters so much as an anchor institution for literacy and learning and as one of the few remaining Black-owned bookstores in the nation.
All in all, our Second Annual DEI Leadership Retreat was a day to remember.
Juneteenth and Pride month symbolize freedom and liberation. Let this be a time of remembering and embracing what DEI symbolizes for Pacific.
Mary J. Lomax-Ghirarduzzi
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor of Communication