Dean's Corner

Black History Month reflection

Black History is American history, it is Minnesota’s history, and it is our own history at the University. Here in CLA, our community has been profoundly shaped by the contributions from generations of Black and African American educators, students, and leaders.

The month of February represents a time for us to reflect on these contributions, and it’s also a catalyst for us to consider how we can continue to honor Black history and Black voices year-round. Consider how we meaningfully commit to building a vibrant, inclusive, and just campus environment. And consider how we hold space for Black stories, experiences, and history. 

In this month’s Alma Matters, we shed a light on Melanie Johnson who serves as the assistant director of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program and academic advisor for African American & African Studies students. In her interview, Melanie shares her perspective about the program’s impact on students and on staff. She also talks about how the program has evolved since its 50th anniversary celebration in 2019 and identifies some of the biggest challenges CLA’s students of color experience today. 

I also invite you to check out our just-released Fall 2022 Roadmap Report which highlights summaries, stats, and stories about our strategic framework in CLA and its pillars of research and creative excellence, career readiness, public engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our vision is to transform CLA into a destination college, a place that is on the short list for prospective students, faculty, staff, and community partners as one of the best places in the nation for their studies, their work, and to advance their missions. In that respect, during Black History Month I especially note our efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion. An institution that creates an environment of respect, dignity, belonging, and justice will be one that attracts the best talent in the world. 

Thank you for being a part of CLA’s treasured history. Thank you for helping us forge brighter, more just futures for our students and the communities in which they will live and work. 

John Coleman

Dean, College of Liberal Arts

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