June 3, 2020
Good afternoon. In light of the national unrest triggered by the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, President Smatresk is convening two virtual Black Lives Matter Town Hall Meetings over the next week – the first for students this Friday, June 5, from 2:00 – 3:30 PM, and the second for faculty and staff on Monday, June 8, from 2:00 – 3:30 PM. I encourage each of us in the UNT College of Music community to be a part of our respective Town Hall, to listen well to the challenging things that must be said, to learn well the lessons that surely will reveal themselves during these conversations, to ask questions with sincerity and respect, and to commit to change.
In so many contexts in the last several months, we in the College of Music have affirmed that while different is not always better, better is always different. Better is always different by its very definition. We must be different if we are to be better. The context of those conversations was centered largely on curriculum, facilities, and human resources. However, in the context of this historic moment, we must learn the ways in which we have participated consciously and unconsciously in hurting persons of color among our family, friends, colleagues, and community in order to be better. We must listen not only to the call for help and reform, but for the tone of it… the timbre of that pain. Seriously, friends, we must change. I must change. It starts with personal ownership of this, and so I pledge to you to embrace this as your Dean. I will be turning to our College Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to advance the conversations we need to have in our College. I will be ensuring that the decanal staff receives the necessary training available to us in our UNT Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity. I will ask our Division Chairs likewise to continue their efforts in facilitating this training across the employees they serve – faculty, staff, and teaching fellows. I will be asking our curriculum committees to examine the cultural biases that may manifest in our practices, pedagogies, and repertoire. I will be seeking guidance from our Student Advisory Committee to ensure that student perspectives are fully represented. I will be listening to learn, and I invite you to join me.
These are modest beginnings, to be sure, but it seemed so important to express to you my profound sorrow and dismay that our country (and our university and our college) now must navigate this most recent moment of righteous anger while we also are navigating a global pandemic and its consequential economic crisis. Our national conversations have competing voices that seem to be calling either for estrangement or unity. Let’s choose unity. While well worn, perhaps, it is no cliché to affirm that we are all in this together. The UNT College of Music is an historic place of global scholarly and musical significance. Our mission is to serve our diverse musical culture with excellence, integrity, and imagination. Our vision is to provide leadership, artistry, and expertise to every facet of the music profession. We are a community and we are a family. We will be better for the difficult conversations we are having in the coming days. We will change for the better.
The next steps in our journey begin this Friday and Monday. Please make an effort to be a part of it.
Here are the links:
Black Lives Matter President’s Virtual Town Hall for Students
2-3:30 p.m. Friday, June 5
Black Lives Matter President’s Virtual Town Hall for Faculty and Staff
2-3:30 p.m. Monday, June 8
UNT’s recent strategic discussions have affirmed our identity as “creative, caring, and resilient.” We will need each of these qualities as never before to do justice to the important conversations that this moment demands.