President Ramsey speaks at diversity forum Nov. 20.
President Ramsey speaks at diversity forum Nov. 20.

President James Ramsey was praised for his leadership and commitment to diversity during a campus forum Friday punctuated several times by applause and attended by several hundred students, faculty and staff members.

Pan African Studies Department Chair Ricky Jones expressed his support for President Ramsey, saying the UofL family must join together and move ahead.

“This is the right man to lead us forward,”  Jones said.

Speakers cited examples of Dr. Ramsey’s unwavering support for diversity during his 13-year tenure as UofL president, including specifically supporting Hispanic/Latino, LGBT and African-American populations.

“President Ramsey should be commended for these efforts,” said Claudio Maldonado, vice president of the UofL Hispanic/Latino Faculty and Staff Association.

Dr. Ramsey told the audience the University of Louisville is at a “defining moment” in its history.

“It’s time for leaders to step up, not to step down,” he said, quoting from a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week by Ithaca College President Thomas R. Rochon. “So I ask that you give me the opportunity to step up.”

President Ramsey said he will be accountable to the campus community by taking steps to increase inclusiveness while embracing the values of honesty, openness and fairness that “never fail us.”

“Nothing is more important,” he told the audience at the campus conversation held in Middleton Auditorium.

The forum also featured remarks from Enid Trucios-Haynes, law professor and interim director of the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice; Victoria Allen, president of the UofL Student Government Association; Jesus Ibañez, law student and president of the group Student Assembly Against Discrimination; and Vice Provost for Diversity and International Affairs Mordean Taylor-Archer.

Ibañez, who was among the students who protested after Dr. Ramsey and his staff were photographed in October wearing sombreros and ponchos during a Halloween party, said he is standing in solidarity with President Ramsey and was confident “he’s working towards making this wrong a right.

“We need to learn from this” and move forward, Ibañez said.

A video of the forum is available here.

Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.