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March 18, 2021

March 18, 2021

March 18, 2021

I would like to share some significant news with you as it relates to diversity and inclusion here on campus and a landmark undertaking by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for racial healing and justice across our nation.

Before I address those topics, I would like to express my  condolences, and offer my prayers and the prayers of the entire Creighton community, to those who are grieving the recent, and tragic, killings in Atlanta, particularly those in the Asian American community. We stand in solidarity with many across our nation, in love and support, in strongly condemning these heinous acts of hate and violence. 

As you know, Christopher M. Whitt, PhD, is advancing in academe and his last day as vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Creighton was yesterday. We are grateful for his service to Creighton and the community, and we wish him well in his new role as vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the University of Denver. 

In this transition, I am pleased to announce that Sarah Walker, PhD, associate professor in the Heider College of Business, has agreed to serve as interim vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, effective March 22. 

Dr. Walker brings exceptional credentials and experience to the role. She graduated summa cum laude from Dillard University in New Orleans in 2003, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, before earning her doctoral degree in industrial-organizational psychology at Rice University in Houston in 2009.

Her training in industrial-organizational psychology provides her specific expertise in diversity, recruitment, selection, training, testing, and measurement. While earning her PhD, she worked as a consultant for Valtera Corporation (now Corporate Executive Board) on projects related to personnel selection and training. 

Prior to joining Creighton University in 2018, Dr. Walker served as an associate professor in the Marilyn Davies College of Business at the University of Houston – Downtown (UHD) for 10 years. While at UHD, she co-authored two federally funded grants which resulted in $1.1 million. The federally funded grants were designed to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in graduate degree programs.  

Her research interests include examining the experiences of marginalized individuals (e.g., racio-ethnic minorities, pregnant women, LGBTQIA, older workers) at work, with a specific focus on individual and organizational-level strategies for creating more equitable workplaces. She remains an active researcher and has published in a variety of applied psychology and management journals throughout her career, including the Journal of Business and Psychology; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Industrial and Organizational Psychology Perspectives; and the Journal of Applied Psychology. She also was featured in a fall 2019 Creighton Magazine article titled “Diversity, Voices, Inclusion and the Workforce.”

We are beginning the process of engaging a national search firm to assist with the search process, and I will be in touch with you soon about the formation of the search committee. As I shared previously, this will be a comprehensive and thorough search, and our goal is to have someone named to the position by Jan. 1, 2022. You can expect that during this process we will also be reviewing title, scope of responsibility, staffing and resources, and other key components of the job. 

In the meantime, we will continue to move purposefully forward on diversity and inclusion initiatives, including our campus climate survey, with guidance and input from Dr. Walker and our entire Creighton community.

In other significant news, as was published in the New York Times on Monday, the Society of Jesus and the GU272 Descendants Association announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between the descendants of enslaved persons and the descendants of their enslavers to create the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation – with the goal of moving America toward deep racial healing through a process of truth and reconciliation.

The foundation will support the educational aspirations of descendants for future generations and play a prominent role in engaging, promoting, and supporting programs and activities that highlight truth, accelerate racial healing and reconciliation, and advance racial justice and equality in America. 

Said the Rev. Tim Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States: “Our shameful history of Jesuit slaveholding in the United States has been taken off the dusty shelf, and it can never be put back. Racism will endure in America if we continue to turn our heads away from the truth of the past and how it affects us all today. The lasting effects of slavery call each of us to do the work of truth and reconciliation. Without this joining of hearts and hands in true unity, the cycle of hatred and inequality in America will never end.”

I applaud these efforts, and will share more information as it becomes available about how this initiative will enhance and advance racial justice and equality on Jesuit campuses nationally and at Creighton.

As I have shared before, we have much work to do.

However, I am encouraged by the establishment of this national foundation, and I am eager to work with Jesuit leaders and colleagues nationally, and with Dr. Walker and others here on our own campus, to continue to advance our work in diversity and inclusion.

Sincerely,

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD