Maybe you’ve noticed the table tents at the Union, the posters at the cultural and resource centers around the U or the digital signs up at Kalhert Village. Or maybe you saw the “U belong” messages waving from poles across campus.
The message is part of a brand-new Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) campaign being launched across the U this fall semester—and it’s meant to work both as a call to action and an appeal for connection and community. “We want all of campus—each and every student, staff, trainee and faculty person to know they have a place here,” says Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for EDI.
That means “Celebrating U Completely” is more than just a catchy slogan. “It’s part of a dynamic and all-encompassing approach which further expands the lanes in which EDI operates,” says Villareal. “Four years ago, we were charged to create a division centered on an institutional commitment to equity and inclusion—and as we enter our fifth year we are growing out and building across our diverse footprint.” EDI has been working hard all summer—meeting with focus groups, planning events and building new partnerships to prepare for this year. And you’ll probably start to notice all that work and planning showing up in various EDI events—beginning with this week’s Welcome Back Bash.
One large new component of this involves the arrival of University of Utah Impact Scholar, Eboo Patel who will be on campus this fall. Patel is a bestselling author and the founder and president of Interfaith America, the leading interfaith organization in the United States—and for the next two years he will be an Impact scholar at the U helping campus build bridges across various communities, forging stronger connections. This fall, Patel and the Interfaith America team will begin this work by partnering closely with Villarreal and EDI to engage in a range of interfaith consulting activities, research and public events across the U campus and state.
Other elements of “Celebrating U Completely” include new media (a refreshing new EDI podcast that focuses on the importance of joy will debut later this fall), upcoming campus events, and several new opportunities and resources for connection.
The goal of all this work is to promote, implement and measure our work that is rooted in the belonging and well-being that our U community experiences on campus, Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald explains. That’s why it felt so important to collaborate with EDI on the launch of this new campaign, she says—a platform focused on increasing the strong sense of community and belonging on the U campus. “These things are so critical—not just for how we feel, but how we perform in our classes and workplaces, and even the quality of life and health we enjoy,” says McDonald. Alongside other vital sources of support, including academic advising, counseling, financial aid and other student resources—McDonald points out that recent research shows “a strong sense of belonging and community helps ensure we all get the most out of the support we receive.”
Students, staff, trainees and faculty should anticipate more “Celebrating U Completely” messages on campus and at events throughout the fall and spring semesters. To learn more or find information on upcoming events and available resources, visit the Celebrating U Completely website.