OPINION: Open Letter to UP Administration

By UP Staff and Faculty Accomplices | January 14, 2021 9:28am

Following the resignation of three women of color from UP's higher administration, UP staff, faculty, students and community members call on UP leadership to demonstrate committed action for diversity and inclusion going forward. Image courtesy of Tate Harris.

Dear Father Poorman, Provost Medina, and Assistant Provost Contreras,

Within the span of three weeks, three women of color at upper ranks at the University of Portland have resigned, including the only woman of color on the President’s Leadership Cabinet. Given the stated commitment to antiracism in the June 12, 2020 email the three of you addressed to the University Community, and the Board of Regents’ ongoing investigation into allegations of racism, sexism, and tokenism in UP’s upper administration, we feel that the manifestation of this commitment requires urgent attention as it relates to University leadership.  The Holy Cross mission refers to the ubiquity of “networks of privilege, prejudice, and power” and emphasizes that “disciples must have the competence to see and the courage to act.” We are at a critical juncture at University of Portland, and appropriate action is imperative.

In addition to bringing unique perspectives into university decision-making, the inclusion of women of color at high levels of administrative power promotes an atmosphere of inclusivity for faculty, staff, and students of all identities. We have confidence that you recognize this, given the July 17, 2020 response from Fr. Poorman and select members of the President’s Leadership Cabinet to the QTBIPOC student petition, which noted, “we acknowledge the particular value of ensuring that the University’s leaders reflect a wide array of perspectives and backgrounds.” We appreciate how this sentiment falls in line with the University’s Objective D in Vision 2020, to “infuse our entire community with a sense of internationalization and diversity.” Human Resources and Institutional Research especially require directors who have demonstrated a commitment to equity and intersectional justice in order to improve our recruitment, retention, and reparation efforts at UP.

Community members of both historically privileged and historically marginalized identities see women of color in distinguished positions as proof that University of Portland values diverse perspectives across disciplines. The combined abrupt departures of Sandy Chung, J.D., Liz Lee, Ph.D., and Trang Lam sent a dispiriting signal to the University community about the value the University places on inclusivity as a whole as well as the quality of the administration’s decision-making going forward.  

We call on University leadership to prioritize its commitment to antiracism through recruiting and hiring women of color who are devoted to equity and inclusion into roles with real institutional power. The now-vacant positions of Vice President for Human Resources, Vice President for Financial Affairs, Director of Institutional Research, and Associate Vice President of Land Use and Planning present prime opportunities. It would be appropriate to apply an equity lens that draws on both professional and lived experiences. We hope that in addition to hiring women of color, the University leadership takes tangible steps to prepare itself to be a welcoming community for these new hires. As Fr. Poorman and others acknowledged in their response to the QTBIPOC student petition this summer, “diversity isn’t worth much unless the voices of diverse leaders are heard and valued.” Additionally, we believe that Ms. Chung’s departure presents an opportunity to finally disentangle Human Resources from Title IX, which is an obvious conflict of interest in terms of whom each office is designed to serve. We reiterate prior calls for the establishment of a separate Title IX committee headed by an individual without primary obligations to the Office of Human Resources.

As the three of you asserted on June 12, we need intentionality and full community buy-in to live out our ideals. You observed that to do anything less than committing to the cause of anti-racism “would be to shirk our responsibilities and betray our calling as people of faith.” We are confident that you meant these words as a guide for University actions rather than as mere platitudes. We assert the urgency of recruiting, hiring, and retaining women of color with a stated commitment to and record of equity and inclusion at the upper ranks of the University as a necessary step towards fulfilling the University of Portland’s commitment to antiracism outlined by Fr. Poorman over the last year. 

Yours sincerely,

Shelby Covington, Staff and Alum

Louisa Egan Brad, Faculty

Laurie Dizney, Faculty

Anna Van Winkle, Alumnus/Alumna

Bobbi Zaman, Faculty

Jane Scott, Faculty, Parent of a student/Alum

Jenna Sulecki, Current Student

Paris Schaefer, Staff

Rachel Wheeler, Faculty

Alex Robbins, Staff and Alum

Alejandro Santana, Faculty

Vail Fletcher, Faculty

Logan M. Ridenour-Starnes, Current Student

Olivia Bormann, Staff

Hannah Harrison, Current Student

Deirdre Katz, Faculty

Terence Favero, Faculty

Kelly Brown, Staff and Alum

Heather Carpenter, Faculty

Dr. Lauren Alfrey, Faculty

Giannina Reyes-Giardiello, Faculty

Mikelle Kelly, Current Student

Sarina Saturn, Faculty

Tshombé Brown, Staff

September Nelson, Faculty and Alum

Emanuel Costache, Staff, Current Student

Renee Crowgey, Faculty

Sam Barrett, Current Student

Natalie Davis, Current Student

Marileisi Castillo, Current Student

Mellanie Muller, Staff and Alum

Betelhem Kefle, Current Student

Camryn Hughes, Current Student

Elena Roberts, Alumnus/Alumna

Rachel Hu, Current Student

Kathryn Lampe, Current Student

Gabby Mota, Current Student

Dulce Sanabria Garcia, Current Student

Elizabeth Chvilicek, Current Student

Aishani Saha, Current Student

Chantal Hummel, Current Student

Lily Bosaz, Current Student

Destiny Kramer, Current Student

Devonna Begay, Current Student

Natalie Goodpaster, Current Student

Kathryn DeVries, Current Student

Bibiana, Current Student

Rebekah Nishida, Other

Cindy Garibay, Current Student

Megan Breen, Current Student

Gabriela Hernandez Duran, Current Student

Ruby Bailey Farnsworth, Other

Samantha Hamilton, Current Student

Adeline Paguirigan, Current Student

Sarina Klein, Alumnus/Alumna

Liz Frick, Current Student

Chelle Plaisted, Alumnus/Alumna

Christine Burchinal, Current Student

Elizabeth Ekhause, Current Student

Jenna Janke, Current Student

Ariadna Hernandez Santos, Other

Alyssa Jensen, Current Student

Rebecca Cole, Current Student

Olivia Zilavy Pailthorp, Current Student

Simrin Singh, Current Student

Emily Hosoume, Current Student

Brooke Niemer, Current Student

Tori Zottarelli, Current Student

Emily May, Current Student

Taylor Gonser, Current Student

Isaiah Datu Saluta, Current Student

Jazryn Nagum, Current Student

Sydney Livingston, Current Student

Meg, Current Student

Quinn McCray, Alumnus/Alumna

Andrea Angeles, Current Student

Prarthna Chona, Current Student

Carlene Beaton, Current Student

Kali Tagomori-Lai, Current Student

Hana Minaee, Current Student

Madison McLaughlin, Current Student

Erica Bailey, Faculty and Alum

Meghan Powers, Current Student

Jennifer Fitz, Current Student

Brooke Welter, Current Student

Lexi Turner, Current Student

Mary Markham, Staff, Current Student

Taylor Cole, Current Student

Siena Di Sera, Current Student

Haley Tuckner, Other

Hannah Pickens, Current Student

Grace Carossino, Current Student

Eileen Ryan, Current Student

Megan Lacy, Current Student

Maggie Loft, Current Student

Elli Souza, Current Student

Madeline Barker, Current Student

Hana Ferris, Current Student

Madeline Lopez, Current Student

Jacob Ortiz, Current Student

Sophie Downing, Current Student

Lindsey Smith, Current Student

Anna Yrjanson, Current Student

Hazel Drymon, Current Student

Grace Wallace, Current Student

Erin Currie, Faculty

Nathan Rhodes, Current Student

Whitney Botsford, Current Student

Quincy Jackson, Other

Natalie Chapman, Current Student

Megan Meckey, Current Student

Margaret Blommer, Current Student

Olivia Nomura, Current Student

Sydney Gardner, Current Student

Liset Morales, Other

Jaclyn Wataoka, Current Student

Joshua Swidzinski, Faculty

Jeffrey Meiser, Faculty

Dave Turnbloom, Faculty, Current Student

Lauren Berger, Ph.D., Faculty

Juyoung Choi, Other

Liam McDonough, Current Student

Callahan Shelley, Current Student

Courtney Campbell, Other

Nhatalya Pagtakhan, Current Student

Mary Clyde, Current Student

Taryn Ligot, Current Student

Elizabeth Guarino, Current Student

Mia Lindsay, Current Student

Mauricio Paz, Current Student

Jenna Brandt, Current Student

Kate Harder, Current Student

Mary Kate Machi, Current Student

Kristin Sweeney, Faculty

Norah Martin, Faculty

Will Oliver, Current Student

Maria Spong, Current Student

Sage DeFreitas, Current Student

Rebecca Ly, Current Student

Elli VanBrabant, Current Student

Rachel, Current Student

Emma Riedel, Current Student

Anna Wood-Gaines, Alumnus/Alumna

Gregory Hill, Faculty

Camille Vezinet, Current Student

Kaitlyn Bakkensen, Current Student

Bailey Davis, Current Student

Phuocan Nguyen, Current Student

Ben Mattern, Current Student

Bryan Dennis, Staff

Sam Winston, Current Student

Drew Gibson, Current Student

Sara Lindorfer, Current Student

Callie Hogan, Alumnus/Alumna

Alondra, Other

Sophia Litterski, Current Student

Connor Heffernan, Current Student

Nancy Seamount, Parent of a student/Alum

Soleia Quinn, Current Student

Halina Wyss, Faculty and Alum

Alice Gates, Faculty

José Velazco, Staff

Mary Seamount, Other

Monisha Gonzales, Other

Holly Barrett, Other

Christin Hancock, Faculty

TriQuang Nguyen, Current Student

Rosie Riley, Current Student

Daniela N Perez Vargas, Current Student

Jen Symons, Ph.D., Faculty

Jen Lovejoy, Faculty

Hunter Coward, Staff

Philip Vue, Faculty

Emily Bonney, Staff

Lyndsy Manz, Staff

Natalie Nelson-Marsh, Faculty

Tyler Wagner, Staff, Current Student

Ian Parkman, Faculty

Hannah Highlander, Faculty

Stephanie Michel, Faculty

Anne Rasmussen, Staff

Hans E Nordstrom, Ph.D., Faculty

Andrew Eshleman, Faculty

Sally Burnside, Staff

Christopher Lee, Faculty

Sarah Sterner, Faculty

Tara Prestholdt, Faculty

Brad Franco, Faculty

Heather N. Lubay, Faculty

Christie Engesser Cesar, Faculty

Katie Richardson, Staff

Matthew Daily, Staff, Current Student

Deana Julka, Faculty

Andrew Downs, Faculty

Abigail Van Vleet, Staff, Current Student, and Alumnus/Alumna

Carolyn James, Faculty

Katie O'Reilly, Faculty

John White, Faculty

Genevieve Brassard, Faculty

Anne Pitsch Santiago, Faculty

David De Lyser, Faculty, Alum, and Current/Former student parent

Heidi Senior, Faculty

Susan McDaniel, Faculty

Craig Swinyard, Faculty and Alum

Joseph Hoffbeck, Faculty

Chris Hallstrom, Faculty

Gregory Pulver, Faculty

Niki Schulz, Faculty

Laurie Laird, Staff

Susan Murray, Faculty

Nick Kanno, Current Student

Raphaelle LeBlanc, Current Student

Carlos Fuentes, Current Student

Susan Bonde, Faculty, Staff

Audrey Fancher, Staff

Amanda Hernandez Michalski, Alumnus/Alumna

Lucía López, Current Student

Suzie Wyss, Staff

Salvador Orara, Faculty, Staff

Katie Danielson, Faculty

Laurie Tull, Staff

Bonnie Parks, Faculty

Molly Hiro, Faculty

Elizabeth Jones, Staff

Amber Vermeesch, Faculty

Rebekah Hanson, Faculty

Jeannie Songer, Alumnus/Alumna

Kathy Briggs, Faculty

Nicole Leupp Hanig, Faculty

Kowkie Durst, Faculty

Janet Banks, Faculty, Alum, and Current/Former student parent

Anita R. Gooding, Faculty

Michael R Prendergast, Faculty

Peytynn Kubo, Current Student

Angelica S, Current Student

Nina Jensen, Current Student

Matthew Wallace, Staff

Ryan Kenton, Faculty

Tammy VanDeGrift, Faculty

Sam Holloway, Faculty

Enzo Alfonso, Current Student

John Haek, Faculty

Dr. Lezlie Cross, Faculty

Tim Doughty, Faculty

Teresa Do, Current Student

Patrick Murphy, Faculty

Elisa Majors, Staff

Jon Stanfill, Faculty

Kevin Jones, Faculty

Elizabeth Aguilera, Staff

Christina Chrestatos, Staff

Mathew R Kuhn, Faculty

Andrew Nuxoll, Faculty

Andrew John Wardenaar, Faculty and Alum

Jared Rees, Staff

Sophie E Charles, Staff

Sarah Maines, Faculty

Christine Weilhoefer, Faculty

Leslie Tjia, Current Student

Montana Hisel-Cochran, Faculty

Laura Dyer, Faculty

Grace Adam, Current Student

Blair Woodard, Faculty

Maria Echenique Ph.D., Faculty

Alexa Dare, Faculty

Sharon Delcambre, Faculty

Corey Pressman, Faculty

Sarah Nuxoll, Staff, Current Student

Emma Castillo-Gonzalez, Current Student

Christina Ivler, Faculty

Clayton Hartmann, Staff

Isabel Velez Alumnus/Alumna

Diane Sotak, Faculty

Lizz Schallert, Faculty

Amanda Kobayashi, Current Student

Shawn Records, Faculty

Shaz Vijlee, Faculty

Cheyenne Magno, Current Student

Lars Larson, Faculty

Paula A. Tower, Faculty

Casandra Esparza, Staff and Alum

Andrew Guest, Faculty

Maureen Briare, Faculty, Alum, and Current/Former student parent

Beatriz Itzel Cruz Megchun, Faculty

Jeff Gauthier, Faculty

Jakob Kotas, Faculty

Maya Sellier, Current Student

Carol Dempsey, Faculty

Sharif Morton, Current Student

Brian Els, Faculty

Caery Evangelist, Faculty

Molly Johnson, Alumnus/Alumna

Amelia J. Ahern-Rindell, Faculty

Amanda Richter, Alumnus/Alumna

Suz Barratt, Alumnus/Alumna

Jeff Brown, Staff

Deborah Macey, Faculty

Brian Guerrero, Faculty and Alum

Dann L. Pierce, Faculty

Nicole Bestard, Alumnus/Alumna

Bruce Conkle, Faculty

Katie Scally, Alumnus/Alumna

Kimberly Rishe, Alumnus/Alumna, Other

Amanda Perez, Alumnus/Alumna

Kelsey Robison, Alumnus/Alumna

Gilbert Resendez, Alumnus/Alumna

Meme Ranken, Alumnus/Alumna

Georgia Arnautou, Alumnus/Alumna

Hannah townsend, Alumnus/Alumna

Steve Mayer, Faculty, Parent of a student/Alum

Regan Murphy, Alumnus/Alumna

Bohn D Lattin, Faculty

Jeff Kerssen-Griep, Faculty

Chloé Tanega, Alumnus/Alumna

Paige Hall, Faculty

Monica Perez, Alumnus/Alumna

Colleen McCormixk, Alumnus/Alumna

Jarid Rother, Alumnus/Alumna

Isabelle Soule, Faculty

Matthew Warshawsky, Faculty

Eli Goldwyn, Faculty

Amy Beadles-Bohling, Faculty

Sabrina Legaspi, Alumnus/Alumna

Jessica Montoya, Alumnus/Alumna

Carolina Cortes, Current Student

Zach Simmons, Faculty

Tiffany Ng, Current Student

Bryan Rookey, Faculty

Tate Harris, Current Student

Eric Anctil, Faculty

William Barnes, Faculty

Jim Axling, Staff, Alum, Parent of a student/Alum

Kourtney Nelson, Alumnus/Alumna

V. Dakshina Murty, Faculty

Elaika Celemen, Alumnus/Alumna

Alyssa Cole, Alumnus/Alumna

Jessica Murphy Moo, Staff

Don Norton, Faculty

Gordon Williamson, Faculty

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