USF launches research initiative to better understand and address racism in local

University of South Florida faculty members will embark on a year-long series of research projects exploring the perpetuation of systemic racism in society that has resulted in economic inequities, social injustices, police violence and other issues. The initiative is designed to create deeper understanding of these complex problems while forging solutions and productive community partnerships.

A $500,000 fund has been jointly established by the Office of the Provost and USF Research & Innovation to support the first round of projects, which will be awarded by the end of August. USF faculty are invited to submit broad-based, multidisciplinary research proposals that involve diverse researchers from across the university.

The effort is guided by a newly formed task force of USF faculty and staff from campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, known as the USF Research Task Force on Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism in our Local, National and International Communities. It was prompted by several factors, including the long-standing issues of racism and institutional violence brought to the forefront by the recent deaths of Black men, women and children due to excessive force from law enforcement, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the nation's Black communities and other concerns.

"The University of South Florida community is embarking on new conversations about addressing systemic racism and the role faculty, students and staff can play in creating greater understanding in our society," said USF President Steven Currall, who called upon the university to expand and enhance current efforts to promote inclusion, opportunity, civility and upward economic mobility in a June 8 letter. "Our researchers are well-positioned to help USF serve as a force for positive change and to lead transformation in our communities."

The new effort reinforces USF's Principles of Community, which affirm the values of inclusivity, equity and mutual respect. It's one of a number of actions planned by Currall and other university leaders in light of recent events and ongoing conversations with Black faculty, staff and students that will be announced soon.

"The content and mission of this initiative are directly responsive to a major recommendation included in a letter submitted to President Currall on behalf of Black employees at USF in June that calls on the university to expand resources for community partnerships and bring together teams of faculty, students and staff," said Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, associate professor of sociology, member of the task force and member of the Black Faculty & Staff Association. "USF is already demonstrating its commitment to engaging in ongoing and sustained efforts to address systemic racism because this is only the first phase of a broader plan."

The task force will aim to support research proposals that include community-based projects and programs, and projects that are positioned for sustained, external grant funding from local or federal agencies, corporate partners or other private sector foundations.

The members of the task force are:

Dr. Pritish Mukherjee (co-Chair), Office of the Provost

Dr. Paul Sanberg (co-Chair), USF Research & Innovation

Ms. Eddie Aikins, USF Research & Innovation

Dr. Fenda Akiwumi, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Geosciences and Institute for Black Life

Dr. Raymond Arsenault, College of Arts and Sciences, Florida Studies

Mr. Richard Berman, USF Research & Innovation and Muma College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship

Dr. Alicia Best, College of Public Health

Dr. Michael Bloom, USF Office of Corporate Partnerships

Dr. Kathy Bradley-Klug, College of Education

Dr. Haywood Brown, Morsani College of Medicine and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Heide Castaneda, College of Arts and Sciences, Anthropology

Ms. Vickie Chachere, USF Research & Innovation

Dr. Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, College of Education, Educational and Psychological Studies

Dr. Kyaien Conner, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, Mental Health Law and Policy

Dr. Kelly Cowart, Muma College of Business

Dr. Barbara Cruz, College of Education, Social Science Education

Ms. Judi Dorn, USF Research & Innovation

Dr. Aisha Durham, College of Arts and Sciences, Communication, affiliated with Africana Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and Humanities and Cultural Studies

Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology

Dr. Delroy Hunter, Muma College of Business

Dr. Antoinette Jackson, College of Arts and Sciences, Anthropology

Dr. Navita James, College of Arts and Sciences, Communication

Dr. Jean Kabongo, Muma College of Business

Dr. Randy Larsen, College of Arts and Sciences, Chemistry

Ms. Judy Lowry, USF Research & Innovation

Dr. James McHale, College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology

Ms. Cerise Mullings, USF Research & Innovation

Dr. K. Stephen Prince, College of Arts and Sciences, History

Dr. Cheryl Rodriguez, College of Arts and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Global Studies

Dr. Kristen Salomon, College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology

Dr. Kevin Sneed, Taneja College of Pharmacy

Ms. Jayde Stewart, National Academy of Inventors

Dr. Steven Tauber, College of Arts and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Global Studies

Dr. Sylvia Thomas, College of Engineering, Electrical Engineering

Ms. Ilana Thomsett, Office of the Provost

Dr. Maya Trotz, College of Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. William Tyson, College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology

Dr. Joseph Vandello, College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology

Dr. Brenda Walker, College of Education, Exceptional Student Education Program

Dr. Stephanie Williams, Office of the Provost

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