The UW Now Livestream with Patricia Devine, Cheryl Gittens, and Eric Wilcots

“Diversity is key to the excellence of our institution,” says L&S dean Eric Wilcots. “It is key to the mission, both of the College of Letters & Science as well as to UW–Madison overall. As long as we stay grounded in that, then we can think about what are the challenges that face us in meeting that mission, in meeting our aspirations and goals for excellence.”

Building a More Inclusive Campus

During The UW Now Livestream event on July 23, Wilcots joined psychology professor Patricia Devine and Cheryl Gittens, the interim chief diversity officer and assistant vice provost in UW–Madison’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement, for a discussion about building a more inclusive campus. In a conversation moderated by WFAA president and CEO Mike Knetter, the three UW leaders spoke about the university’s goals for diversity and the effects of prejudice.

Devine, who studies the problems associated with prejudice, talked about how people can overcome their own implicit bias — the stereotypes that people hold without realizing it. Gittens discussed UW–Madison’s programs and services aimed at promoting and improving campus diversity.

“The Wisconsin Idea is an important context for all of this,” Gittens said. “For the university to fulfill that mission, and improve the lives of people throughout Wisconsin, we must confront and dismantle racism and other forms of inequity.”

Working to Attract and Keep Diverse Students and Faculty

Wilcots, who began his role as dean during the 2019–20 academic year, set forth his goals for L&S and the UW. He noted that the UW will have to work hard to attract and keep more diverse students and faculty members.

“The days of us just raising the flag of UW–Madison and attracting the best and brightest diverse talent — those days are gone,” he said. “There’s just too much competition.”

Devine, who studies the problems associated with prejudice, talked about how people can overcome implicit bias — the powerful and pernicious impact of stereotypes on how people think about the treat others that they do not intend and often do not notice. Gittens discussed UW–Madison’s programs and services aimed at promoting and improving campus diversity.

Resources to Combat Racism

During the event, WFAA provided a series of resources for people who wish to combat racism:

The UW Now began as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though originally planned as in-person gatherings in cities across the United States, the series is now offered via YouTube and will continue through the summer. The next event will be August 4 and will cover the future of sports and leisure.