Division News & Statements
Winter Message from Vice President Bernal
January 19, 2024
Dear Laker Community,
Welcome back from Winter break! I hope this message finds you rejuvenated and ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities of a new semester.
As Vice President for Inclusion and Equity, I want to reiterate our unwavering commitment to nurturing a culture that deeply cares for every individual honoring the diverse backgrounds everyone contributes to our university. We continue to advance important work towards building a culture of educational equity, upholding the values that foster an inclusive and equitable community. In the newsletter linked below you can find more information about the recent initiatives led by our Accountability and Activation Leadership Team (AALT). It’s these values that guide us, especially in times of national turbulence, ensuring that we remain a space for hope and understanding.
As we reflect on the significance of the recent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. events this week, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to making it a meaningful commemoration. Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” This quote resonates deeply with our mission here at GVSU, as we strive to uplift and empower each other through our actions and interactions.
In recent times, significant national occurrences have deeply affected Black women in academia. This includes the departure of Dr. Claudine Gay and the passing of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey. We recognize the emotional and psychological impact these events may have on women of color at GVSU. Studies show that Black women in academic settings often face stricter scrutiny from students, non-Black peers, and supervisors, affecting their mental health and leading to inequitable expectations. These inequities highlight the vital need to foster an environment at our institution where all individuals are appreciated, listened to, and supported. I am personally committed to finding and creating opportunities that elevate the voices and experiences of our underrepresented communities and welcome your feedback and input. The stories and insights of women of color are not just integral to our collective learning but are essential in shaping a more just and empathetic world. The education and learning resources shared in the newsletter linked below provide important opportunities to deepen our understanding. I also encourage each of you to actively check in and care for one another.
Let’s carry Dr. King’s spirit of service and community into our Winter semester. I encourage each of you to have a healthy, engaged, and transformative semester, full of learning, growth, and impactful contributions to our Laker family.
Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D.
Vice President for Inclusion & Equity
Chief of Staff to the President