OPINION: An Open Letter to the UP Community

By Mark Poorman , Eduardo Contreras and Herbert Medina | January 14, 2021 6:38pm
Fr. Mark Poorman, Dr. Herbert Medina and Dr. Eduardo Contreras respond to the open letter submitted by UP community members.
Media Credit: Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

Dear UP Community Members,

We thank you for your open letter published in The Beacon on January 14 regarding the recent departure of three women of color from leadership positions at University of Portland. While we are pleased that they are taking on exciting opportunities within new organizations, we agree with you that losing talented leaders with diverse perspectives is unfortunate for our institution. We assure you that even prior to receiving your letter, we were already engaged in discussions on the critical importance of equity and diversity in the searches we undertake, as well as our faculty/staff retention efforts.

As we stated in our letters last summer, we are committed to forging a diverse, representative, and inclusive community of staff and faculty to serve our UP students. Doing so is consistent with our Catholic, Holy Cross mission and in the best interest of our institution. We work hard to ensure that diverse pools of candidates are developed when we fill positions at UP. In recent months, we have formalized many of these practices. As you may be aware, last summer the Provost’s Council implemented a strong set of directives on hiring faculty for diversity. We have also initiated a program to train search advocates that promote considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of search processes. These advocates have already played a role in several searches throughout the campus this academic year.

We also recognize the tremendous value in supporting our current UP colleagues who may be well-suited to take on new positions within the institution. The professional development and cultivation of current UP employees is a priority, and there is value in retaining talented individuals who know our institution well. This, too, is an approach that places equity at the forefront of decisions regarding staffing.

We further remind the entire campus community that each one of us has a role to play in advancing representation among our employees. We all possess agency within our various spheres of influence, and we must all promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work at UP, including the searches in which we participate. We also have a responsibility to contribute to building a welcoming, positive environment in which these principles are valued and appreciated; indeed, using a term made popular by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must all work towards building a beloved community as an important component of our retention efforts.

We close by stating that as leaders of this Catholic, Holy Cross institution of higher education, we stand side-by-side with you as concerned members of our community who will continue to place issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of what we do, including the hiring of faculty, staff, and University leadership.


Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., Ph.D., President

Herbert A. Medina, Ph.D., Provost

Eduardo R. Contreras, Ed.D., Assistant Provost for International Education, Diversity and Inclusion

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