Stepping in the Right Direction
University leaders set course for anti-racism work, and explore ways for donors to play a part in positive change

n the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the emphasis on social justice, equality and anti-racism has taken on new focus at the University of New Hampshire.

The university has undertaken a plan to combat racism and foster inclusion across its three campuses, under the leadership of President Jim Dean and with significant input from his Leadership Council as well as members of the student, faculty and staff populations.

Dean and the Presidents’ Leadership Council have created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, and have been discussing the university’s plan through a series of town hall online meetings. Dean says the feedback he’s gotten thus far is that UNH has identified the right issues to address — but that he and others have a tremendous amount of work ahead. “Finding ways to create a more diverse and inclusive university, and especially to respond effectively to instances of racism or bias, are at the top of our list of priorities,” he shared in a community email in late September, noting that he plans to release more specific details in the near future.

Part of that work is finding ways in which donors can be part of the solution by supporting students, faculty and programs at the forefront of efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Since joining UNH as its next chief diversity officer and associate vice president for community, equity and diversity, Nadine Petty (formerly executive director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment at the University of Iowa) has begun meeting with UNH Advancement, the fundraising arm of UNH, to find ways that donors can directly support DEI work and the people most directly affected by it.

The university has also created a gift charter for a fund that will support The Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice and Freedom, formerly known as the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. The fund and the center were named in memory of Aulbani J. Beauregard ’22, who unexpectedly passed away during her freshman year at UNH. She was an active member of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Diversity Support Coalition, the Black Student Union and NALA (a support group for women of color), and was recognized for her leadership potential, even after just one year on campus. The newly renamed center also has a new director in Caché Owens-Velásquez, who came to UNH with experience in university-community partnerships, teaching, and community-based action research.

Being able to directly support DEI initiatives was an idea touted during a summer webinar, “Black Student Union Sit-Ins to #GeorgeFloyd: A Reflection on Our Past, an Examination of Our Present, and a Reckoning With Our Future,” which featured Tito Jackson ’99 ’18H and Julian Maduro ’21. Jackson, a former Boston City Council member and entrepreneur, and Maduro, a student leader who helped organize the Black Lives Matter rally in Durham, shared how their experiences shape their perspectives on the challenges of systemic racism facing our country and campus. You can watch the full webinar here.

Alumni and donors are letting us know that they want to see real change at UNH, and supporting inclusion and diversity efforts are part of making sure that current and future students can get the most of their UNH experiences.”
—Debbie Dutton
Debbie Dutton, vice president of University Advancement and president of the UNH Foundation, is grateful to be included in the group that is focused on making substantive changes at UNH. She says she’s encouraged there are ways in which volunteer leaders and donors can partner with UNH to address these social justice issues.

One initiative she points to is a new Internship Opportunity Scholars program, which would bridge diversity and inclusion work at UNH with similar efforts going on in the business sector by awarding scholarships to qualified students that would not only help with tuition but would also guarantee internships at partner organizations and built-in mentorships both at UNH and at their internship site.

“Alumni and donors are letting us know that they want to see real change at UNH, and supporting inclusion and diversity efforts are part of making sure that current and future students can get the most of their UNH experiences,” says Dutton. “We are heeding that call for easier ways to support the university’s efforts in the areas of social justice, equality and anti-racism, as well as support our faculty and students.”

— Michelle Morrissey ’97