As faculty and staff at Utah Valley University, we must agree with Arty Diaz’s (Public Forum, Feb. 27) and Kelli Potter’s (Commentary, April 2) assessments that the school’s core value of inclusivity and “Exceptional Care” is undermined by the selection of our 2021 commencement speaker.
The administration’s and trustees’ choice to celebrate and give a voice to Wendy Watson Nelson at our most public annual event signals a lack of sympathetic understanding that in fact is dangerous to our LGBTQ+ students.
Many UVU faculty and staff shared Diaz’s “you have to be kidding me” reaction to hearing about this year’s commencement speaker. On Feb. 17, a group of 80-plus faculty and staff met (virtually) to question the selection, to discuss ways of supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and to call for greater transparency and thoughtfulness in future speaker selections. The Faculty Senate will also take up this issue.
We support Mr. Diaz and the many other parties working toward a more welcoming and inclusive environment at UVU. We want to reassure students that we will continue to oppose administrative blunders like this one while also maintaining our ongoing commitment to “Exceptional Care” in our own classrooms and campus spaces. We, the undersigned faculty and staff, are here now for all of our students, even, and especially when it feels like others are not.
Lydia R. Kerr
Joshua C. Hilst
Adrienne A. Winans
David C. Keller
Kara van de Graaf
Leandra H. Hernandez
Julie J. Nichols
Jessica A. Pauly