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DEI Committee Spotlight

Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2023

DEI. An acronym that has entered our popular lexicon and demanded our attention. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. Concepts that have been enthusiastically embraced in some quarters and studiously ignored in others. What is all the fuss about? Why should we, members of ARCS Foundation Oregon, care? 

We should care because it impacts the success of our mission to further scientific progress through support of outstanding students in STEM at Oregon's top research Universities. We believe that science is the solution: In the absence of diverse voices and the diverse points of view they bring to bear on issues that science can help to resolve, those solutions will require more time and more money to accomplish. Rules and regulations in the US and around the world have systematically made it extremely difficult for those diverse voices to be heard, and this impacts all of us. ARCS Foundation Oregon Alum Sunil Joshi’s article describes some of his experiences as a medical student of color. These sorts of experiences are, unfortunately, not unique to Sunil. 

In 2020 ARCS Foundation Oregon member Meleah Ashford headed a DEI Task Force that developed the “Commitment to Inclusive Excellence” statement that appears on our website: ARCS Foundation Oregon embraces inclusive excellence as a core value critical to science and innovation. We believe that science is the solution to many of the world's most pressing problems, and diverse perspectives are critical to achieving those solutions. We commit to ensuring that inclusive excellence is honored and upheld within our membership and in our relationships with partner institutions. 

This statement was meant as a beginning for ARCS Foundation Oregon’s commitment to DEI. The next step is to take action to support these words. How can we, as a group, ensure that the experiences that Sunil describes become a thing of the past for him and for other persons of color? This is not separate from nor is it incompatible with the ARCS Foundation mission, but rather an integral part of our mission to further science by supporting the next generation of scientists.  

This work will also support the recruitment and retention of more diverse voices to the membership rolls of ARCS Foundation Oregon, which will enhance our ability to resolve issues related to our continuing growth and health as an organization. Perhaps more than ever before, we must ensure that each of us feels welcome, included, connected and valued at ARCS Foundation Oregon.  

In this spirit, we continue our work to understand how we, as a group of privileged, largely white, women, can better understand the experiences of our diverse students/neighbors/friends and better support their inclusion in all the various spaces we occupy. The journey will not be smooth, and at times may be uncomfortable, but it is critical that we set out in good faith and seek to learn what we may not even know we don’t know.  

To this end, we have engaged DEI consultants Maria Chavez-Haroldson, PhD, and Charlotte Moats-Gallagher to lead us on this journey. We had our first committee meeting with them on January 19, and it generated a profound discussion during which we began to explore DEI issues in a safe space where our conversations are confidential. If you have questions about this process, wonder what it looks like, question its value, or just want to further your own understanding of DEI issues, please consider joining us for our next virtual meeting on March 9th, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Just let me know of your interest via email at and I’ll send you the meeting link. I promise it will be well worth your while!