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Leah Cox


“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” —Martin Luther King


Dear Carolina Community,

Happy New Year!

The start of a new year provides an opportunity for new beginnings, a chance to start fresh, a moment to reflect on missed opportunities and the opportunity to create incremental and actionable plans for growth and change. The changes we seek do not have to be grand or demonstrative. Small incremental changes that move us in a shared direction are essential in attaining our goals in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB).

Let us continue to shift our focus in 2022. In so doing, let’s not just focus on diversity and inclusion; instead, let’s add equity and belonging. Belonging is essential to the outcomes that higher education attempts to execute. A sense of belonging is the prerequisite to our goals of recruitment, retention, improved climate, and realizing equity for those who are systematically marginalized and excluded in our community. Belonging is the goal of all of our D&I efforts, building inclusive and equitable processes that make everyone feel welcome no matter who they are and regardless of their identity.

Let us begin the new year with a commitment to creating the Carolina that we strive to be. Let each college or school engage in the hard work of DEIB with an eye towards growth and change. Let us take accountability for our commitment to Building our Community Together so that we may realize the vision we have for all members of the Tar Heel community.

In the upcoming month, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. This celebration provides the University and the Carolina community an opportunity to reflect upon Dr. King’s words, their meanings and how they are relevant to 2022 and our ongoing struggle for equality for all. Our MLK Week of Celebration includes a Banquet, a Lecture & Awards ceremony, a film screening, a student service project and culture show (see feature below for more details).

At the end of the month (January 27th), we recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27 was chosen to commemorate the date that Auschwitz concentration camps were liberated by the Red Army in 1945. This day remembers the killing of 6 million Jews and millions of others by the Nazi regime.  This commemoration provides, in the words of President Obama, the opportunity to “mourn the loss of lives, celebrate those who saved them, honor those who survived, and contemplate the obligations of the living.”

Let us look to the new year for new beginnings and taking that first step…together.


Leah Cox, PhD
Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion/
Chief Diversity Officer

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