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Listening Tour: 2020 & Beyond – Building Belonging, Sept. 26

September 19, 2019
Dear Campus Community,
Since arriving on campus nearly two months ago, I have immersed myself in listening and absorbing all that I can about our beautiful campus and the people that make it so special. Earlier this month, I announced a series of informal, open hours called “Drop-Ins with the Chief Diversity Officer” that I am hosting at our various campus sites to meet you where you are.
With this, I have begun a sustained process of reflecting on our present and thinking into our future, together with the diverse faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni and friends who sustain this community of teaching, research and service.
This phase of strategic listening and synthesis will span much of my first year and will inform strategic priorities from our collective voices. To hear from UC Merced in its entirety will mean being in motion every day, all day, to reach every part of our community — on campus and around the world — and hear the fullness of your different experiences.
With this in mind, I invite students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of UC Merced to join me in a series of structured listening sessions happening this fall, themed: “2020 & Beyond: Building & Thinking Forward.”
Together, we will explore three key themes that have emerged in my early conversations. Durable transformation happens when we sustain and strengthen our mission. Taking a long view of our core commitments, therefore: How do we think forward to build belonging, build excellence and build together, over the coming 10 to 20 years?
This listening tour begins with three in-person events scheduled in September, October and November, each focused on three key themes:
September - Building Belonging
Thursday, Sept. 26 - 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Crescent Arch Room
October - Building Excellence
Wednesday, Oct. 30 – 2 to 3:30 p.m.
The Pavilion, Room 104
November - Building Together
Thursday, Nov. 14
Noon to 1:30 p.m.
The California Room
You are welcome to attend any or all of the sessions, and I hope you'll find time to do so. Please RSVP online.
These are critical themes around which to chart our course in the coming years. The more broadly we involve our entire community in exploring them, the stronger and more substantive our answers will be. Together, we can use this process of exploration to renew and reaffirm what we most value.
In the spring, our office will extend this outreach beyond the campus and host similar sessions within the city to include residents who are not directly affiliated UC Merced but whose thoughts and perspectives are still important to consider.
I am also planning a Twitter chat later this year to expand the conversation to include alumni, trustees and other campus stakeholders who might not be able to attend local events but still care deeply for UC Merced. Please follow our office on Twitter at @ucmdiversity , and feel free to initiate conversations with us. We’d love to hear from you.
And finally, we have an online feedback form for those who prefer to share thoughts and experiences anonymously.
Our central communications hub is online. Click here to find:
  • Our anonymous feedback form
  • Information on campus forums in the coming months
  • Social media events and comments via the hashtag #UCMercedForward
I will gather your feedback and use these data points to play back what I heard, ensure your voices are captured accurately and develop priorities that will guide our equity, diversity and inclusion work as we all become transformative practitioners.
UC Merced is a university of growing momentum in the present and vast potential for the future. Serving this community as its inaugural Chief Diversity Officer is an extraordinary honor. I welcome the opportunity to hear your voice as we build and think forward together in fostering a learning environment where equity, diversity and inclusion is not only central to everything we do, but also to who we are.
Dania Matos
Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer
Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion