The University of South Florida is committed to diversity, inclusion and equity across all three campuses—Sarasota-Manatee, St. Petersburg and Tampa—and continues to take significant action to foster anti-racism, access, equity, cultural inclusivity and cultural intelligence.
In September 2020, USF was recognized by Times Higher Education as the No. 1 university in Florida and No. 6 in the nation for reducing inequalities in outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation students, international students, and students with disabilities.
Corey Posey, USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Diversity Officer, was recruited in the summer of 2019 to expand programming and community partnerships. One program making an impact is the Journey to Success leadership and career preparation series that is delivered to local high school students by members of Gamma Xi Boulé, a social fraternity of professional men of color, and USF faculty and staff. Topics include leadership and confidence, careers in chemical and biological sciences, information technology and engineering and criminal law and justice. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the program to go on hiatus, and it is currently being reimagined to support a virtual format to be introduced later this year.
After the highly publicized death of George Floyd in May 2020 while in the custody of Minneapolis police—and the ensuing protests nationwide demanding that systemic racism be addressed—USF President Steve Currall committed to invest $500,000 in research projects exploring systemic racism, its causes and solutions to the problems and formed a new advisory committee, “Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism,” on which Posey serves along with Staff Advisory Council President Denise Davis-Cotton.
Currall then announced additional initiatives, including elevating two Black educators to top decision-making roles at USF; boosting efforts to recruit Black students, faculty and staff; holding purchase decision-makers accountable for choosing more diverse suppliers and hosting a series of forums on all three campuses to discuss race.
Posey brought in the Rev. Jamie Washington, a renowned expert on racism, diversity and social justice issues, to facilitate a candid discussion with faculty and staff during a Sarasota-Manatee campus virtual town hall meeting in which participants were challenged to examine their own perceptions about race based on experiences, upbringing, geography and other factors. Additionally, the new consolidated Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity will be facilitating campus-wide dialogues about racism throughout the year. “The Dismantling Racism Study Circles will give faculty and staff an opportunity to explore their feelings about race, racism, classism and other challenges that exist in the workplace,” says Posey.
Visit USF’s website for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity to learn more.
View the 2021 campus-wide Black Heritage Month events and celebrations here.