Founded by a group of new presidents and presidents of color serving at some of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, the Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA) will provide professional development for faculty and staff members on issues of racial justice and equity. To date, 63 institutions have signed on as inaugural members, working in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center.
“Puget Sound is deeply committed to the work of racial equity, and like many other institutions throughout our country, we have a lot of work to do to make our campus the truly welcoming environment that our students—and all members of our campus community—need to grow and thrive,” said President Isiaah Crawford, who in 2016 became the university’s first person of color to serve as president. “Through membership in LACRELA we look forward to broadening educational opportunities for our community and contributing the expertise of our own faculty and staff members to this collective effort.”
Presidents of member colleges will meet regularly to share strategies, seek advice, and brainstorm ways to leverage the Alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education. Membership also includes a monthly racial equity eConvening series beginning in January 2021; an online portal of equity-related resources and tools; and workplace climate surveys.
Membership in LACRELA is an important addition to Puget Sound’s most notably through the work of the Race and Pedagogy Institute founded in 2002 to engage in partnership with the local community to educate students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race, cultivate terms and practices for societal transformation, and eliminate racism. As part of its work, the Institute hosts national conferences every four years to engage issues of race and to discuss the impact of race on education. The next conference is scheduled to take place in 2022. Other key Puget Sound initiatives include a regular campus climate survey conducted by the institution’s Diversity Advisory Council and the elevation of the chief diversity officer role to an inaugural vice president for institutional equity and diversity position; a national search is currently underway.
More information about University of Puget Sound’s diversity initiatives and commitments is available at pugetsound.edu/diversity.