Welcome Back: A Message from the Chief Diversity Officer.

Gwenne Berry

I come to you today, in the midst of yet another racially charged tragedy, to share a message of understanding, support and hope. Over the past few months, our nation has been witness to repeated acts of devaluing, mutilating and humiliating Black bodies; acts that have horrified us and prompted protests as far away as United States embassies in Berlin, Germany. The situation is made even more sickening when we understand that such devaluing has continued, almost unchecked, since the days of slavery and then Reconstruction when Black people were hunted, burned and lynched for sport. What happens today is just as unacceptable.

We must stop these horrible acts and we must admit that our country very clearly has a problem with Black men; Black men who must risk their very lives to engage in everyday activities that most of us take for granted: driving, barbecuing, jogging.

Following this recent act of brutality against a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., I recognize that our Black students and colleagues are hurting, and alongside them are allies with heavy hearts. I know this because several of them have graciously shared with me their stories of anger, fear, worry and heartbreak. I am so sorry to hear it, but I also am furious that members of this community have been traumatized in this fashion.

While there is no way to erase that harm, please know that UNI offers multiple resources to help you seek some sense of solace even as chaos rages.

  • Students may seek assistance through the UNI Counseling Center. Shantila Caston is the Mental Health Therapist for Diversity Outreach and can be reached at 273-2676.

  • The Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice (DIS) is staffed by individuals steeped in knowledge around racial trauma and they are happy to talk with anyone affected by recent events. For more information, contact the Director, Jamie Chidozie, at 273-2250.

  • The Dean of Students can help with advising and referral. She can be reached at 273-7153.

  • Employees who are interested in talking to someone should reach out to the Employee Assistance Program at 800-327-4692.

  • *It’s okay that you might feel fragile. That is normal after such a significant shock.

  • Rest, relax (if you can). Do things that you enjoy.

  • Share your feelings with a trusted friend.

A few other things for all members of the Panther family to keep in mind right now:

  • We should give grace to those employees who "need a minute" at different times throughout the day. (Don’t be surprised if this is the case for some time.)

  • Let’s be ready to listen in case a colleague does decide to share their feelings. And remember, it's their story. It's not the time to insert ourselves into the flow. Just listen.

If you want guidance on opening a conversation with a colleague, feel free to be in touch with Gwenne Berry, Chief Diversity Officer, 273-2567.

I stand with you.

Black Lives Matter and we will not rest until everyone everywhere understands that statement.


Gwenne Berry

Diversity and Inclusion Newsletter


An Invitation to a Conversation

A Racial Healing Circle

Summer 2020 came in hot, erupting in violence following multiple shootings that left  Black people dead when they'd been simply jogging, driving, living. The effect of the constant racially motivated violence has been immeasurable trauma upon people of color; trauma that will likely continue for some time. We know we cannot promise you that the violence against our bodies will end. But we can provide an open, safe place for you to talk about your feelings, and create your own  self-care methods. We hope you'll join us. Anyone may attend but the focus is on those who have experienced racial trauma.

Every Thursday, beginning September 3, 2020
3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Zoom Link

Sponsored by
The Chief Diversity Officer
The Center for Multicultural Education
The Counseling Center



David McAtee
Jacob Blake
George Floyd
Dreasjon Reed
Michael Ramos
Breonna Taylor
Manuel Ellis
Atatiana Jefferson
Emantic Bradford Jr.
Charles Roundtree Jr.
Chinedu Okobi
Botham Jean
Antwon Rose Jr.
Saheed Vassell
Stephon Clark
Aaron Bailey

University of Northern Iowa Strategic Plan: Goal I:

The University of Northern Iowa is committed to championing diversity as a core value of our university community. UNI will create and maintain a diverse, respectful and inclusive work and learning environment in order to prepare the university community for a constantly evolving world and so that inclusive excellence becomes the norm. This work will include challenging beliefs and practices that discriminate against, degrade, or diminish a group within our community based on the group members' innate characteristics. We believe that valuing diversity is a necessary foundation for inclusion, and that inclusive excellence provides a learning environment for our students and our community that prepares us for a dynamic, interconnected world.

Provide a campus culture that reflects and values the evolving diversity of society and promotes inclusion.

2017-2022 UNI Strategic Plan



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