Announcing ‘Courageous Conversations’ on Culture and Inclusion

Created: October 7, 2020
Last Updated: October 7, 2020


We at W&J are committed to fostering universal respect and embracing individual differences so that all are able to thrive in our increasingly diverse campus community. It is our shared responsibility to proactively identify and remove barriers that might prevent any among us from realizing their full human potential. To this end, we join with many voices across the nation calling for an end to racial injustice as we strive to ensure that Black lives matter at W&J and are valued in every aspect of our life together.

You will soon be invited to express interest in participating in a series we’re calling “Courageous Conversations” to identify opportunities for W&J to become a more inclusive and equitable place for all students and employees. The poet David Whyte describes courageous conversations as the ones we know we need to have, but know we are not having. He stresses that it sometimes takes as much courage to listen as it does to speak.

To help guide and facilitate these Courageous Conversations, I have enlisted the expertise of Dr. Larry Roper who has worked with colleges and universities across the country to combat racism and foster cultures of inclusion. Larry recently retired as a Professor in the School of Language, Culture and Society at Oregon State University, where he coordinated the undergraduate Social Justice minor and the College Student Services Administration graduate program. Previously he was Vice Provost for Student Affairs at Oregon State University from 1995-2014. He has degrees from Heidelberg University, Bowling Green State University, and the University of Maryland.

With Larry as moderator, a number of conversation groups will examine our campus culture from diverse perspectives. A note-taker will capture the spirit of each discussion to inform subsequent actions to ensure that all individuals are welcome, included and supported at W&J. In addition to facilitating these discussions, Larry will advise us on the practical implementation of needed changes. He also will assist the Faculty Executive Committee’s Subcommittee on Faculty Diversity & Inclusion in developing strategies to increase faculty diversity and create a more inclusive academic culture.

You will receive an email from Dean Frick and Dean Eva with more details and a schedule for this process. I hope you agree that this work is not only timely but essential for a college whose mission calls us all to be people of uncommon integrity.

With gratitude for your commitment to thiving together,


John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor

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