The University of Arkansas at Monticello has created the Chancellor’s Focus Group for Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“The stated values of UAM include fostering inclusivity and respect for every member of the university community,” Chancellor Peggy Doss said in the July 28 news release. “I am excited that this focus group is intent on developing initiatives that will further develop a campus culture reflective of these principles.”

The 12-member task force will bring together colleagues from many areas of the university community to discuss and collaborate in ongoing outreach initiatives and make recommendations to the University Executive Council. The focus group will promote a greater inclusive learning and living community on the university’s three campuses, according to the release.

The focus group chairman is Vice Chancellor Bob Ware of the UAM College of Technology at McGehee.

“To provide a comprehensive education that promotes critical thinking and understanding, as a university, we need to address, head-on, any issues pertaining to race, ethnicity, and gender,” Ware said. “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, and this committee is an excellent way to make that a clear and continuous priority.”

In recent months, as the nation has engaged in conversations around equality, racial equity, and increased understanding, Doss has considered how best to bring this conversation to UAM, according to the release.

“This is a perfect opportunity to enrich our campus culture and engage in meaningful dialogue,” the chancellor said. “I look forward to their continuing feedback and ideas.”

The focus group will begin meeting soon to create a strategic framework.

Founding members include:

Bob Ware – task force chair; vice chancellor, UAM College of Technology - McGehee;

John Davis – task force co-chair; associate professor of political science and director of governmental relations;

Markell Cox – head women’s basketball coach;

Michael Davila – associate vice chancellor and dean of students;

Courtney Hicks – Student Government Association representative;

Wanda Jackson – instructor of education;

Marie Jenkins – director of social work, associate professor of social work;

Kris Johnson – assistant men’s basketball coach;

Trinita Newton – accountant;

Roberta Thomas – director of testing and career services;

Kim Wallis – health information technology instructor, UAM College of Technology – Crossett;

Jeremy Woodall – Baptist Collegiate Ministry campus minister.