Dismantling Racism Initiative

Mural paintings in Minneapolis and St. Paul were strong expressions of anti-racism and black voices as protests and riots spread across our cities. Two local artists, Ana Nugent and Ellora Parrington, both 2015 graduates of the College of St. Benedict, we

The Initiative

Launched in the 2020-2021 school year, Cretin-Derham Hall has committed to dismantle racism within ourselves and our system. With a 10-year commitment to the critical work for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), this first year of the initiative was dedicated to establishing a structure, engaging diverse perspectives, creating a safe environment for difficult conversations, and beginning the foundational work so long term progress is realized.

As President Frank Miley stated at the launch of the community-wide initiative, the progress will take time and will occur over time, but there is a need for immediate action and change where possible. Highlights of these efforts over the School Year 2020/2021 are listed below.


Latest Updates (May 2021)

The development of the comprehensive plan has begun. Several foundational steps are underway. While this is not a complete list, it does highlight several key efforts taken by the school over the past month.

  • Several Listening Sessions for students and faculty/staff have been offered over the past several weeks. We want to provide an opportunity for everyone to share their views, so additional sessions have been scheduled. 

  • CDH will be hiring a DEI Coordinator/Student Advocate. This job will be posted within a few weeks.

  • The faculty and staff will engage in DEI/Cultural Competency Training as the primary Professional Development focus for 2021/2022.

  • The Black Excellence Alumni Network was formed early in 2021 to strengthen connections among Black alumni and support Black students in striving for academic excellence and career exploration.

  • The AFAM student group provides a space for Black students to connect. Its purpose is to assist students to become leaders for themselves, their families, their communities and their school. The student-led group's mission is to analyze and resolve the stereotypes and barriers between themselves and others and to build community between one another as well as with other cultures and individuals. 

  • To find out how you can be more involved, please click here.

Timeline of Action

July 2020: Making a Commitment

August 2020: A Foundation for Progress

  • CDH commissioned Anton Treuer, Ph.D., a highly respected consultant on racial disparities, to guide CDH in an effort to dismantle racism.
  • Faculty and Staff attended an all-day seminar with Dr. Anton Treuer.

Sept./Oct. 2020: Forming a Structure

  • CDH established this webpage to provide information and resources for the CDH Community.
  • President Frank Miley and Principal Mona Passman invited members of the CDH community, including faculty, staff, parents, alumni, members of the Board of Directors, to commit to the Dismantling Racism Steering Committee as the group tasked with the goal of dismantling racism within the CDH community. 
  • The Dismantling Racism Steering Committee held its first Zoom meeting on Oct. 7, with a plan for monthly meetings. Dr. Treuer specifically encouraged the group to engage in conversations about personal experiences or perceptions of racism as a foundation for difficult conversations and complex work needed to do the work of this initiative.
  • A Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Theater group formed under Katie Kreitzer.
  • The Steering Committee developed a shared list of resources from a multitude of sources to aid in personal and systemic assessment and growth. 
  • The CDH Student Council Executive Board created CDH Guidelines for Civil Discourse which was adopted and shared with all students as a framework for engaging in meaningful dialogue about difficult topics while showing respect for the human dignity of all.
  • A Dismantling Racism Student Advisory Group was formed, tasked with the goal of representing the student voice in the efforts to dismantle racism within the CDH community.





Nov./Dec. 2020: Incorporating DEI across our plan

  • The Dismantling Racism Steering Committee focused energy on building the team’s equity knowledge and introspective toolbox. A specific focus was on understanding a common language, i.e. nationality, race, ethnicity, and the different impact of those concepts in our personal understanding and in culture.
  • At the direction of Frank Miley and the Board of Directors, the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan was updated by each domain to include specific goals surrounding dismantling racism.

Jan/Feb 2021: connecting with alumni and students

  • The Dismantling Racism Steering Committee moved into a new phase by establishing several working committees based on priorities identified in earlier assessments. These committees include: Curriculum, Policies, Spirituality, Student Experience, Communication, Alumni Outreach. Subcommittees will gather input and assess options, make recommendations to the Steering Committee. Frank Miley and Mona Passman will then oversee implementation within the school.
  • Alexis Burns ’15, a member of the Dismantling Racism Committee, seeks approval and support from the school to establish a Black Alumni Network. She establishes a leadership group, including current faculty and alumni, and a Facebook Group for members as they build the group. She presents the idea to the CDH Alumni Association.
  • The school celebrated the Feast Day of Blessed Brother James Miller, with a focus on his life’s work of seeking justice.
  • The Justice Week theme, Exploring the Dynamics of Race, features many different approaches for looking at race, including Identity and Social Perceptions, Statistics on Race and the Pandemic, Neighborhood Development (Rondo and I-94), Racial Dynamic in Law Enforcement, The Church and Racism, and much more.
  • Dr. Anton Treuer is keynote presenter for Justice Week and speaks to students on how to dismantle racism within ourselves.
  • Black History Month featured daily announcements of notable facts on Black Americans who have impacted our culture, plus a series of social media videos posted throughout the month.

March/April 2021: Educating ourselves and our community

  • The Traditions magazine is distributed with an editorial focus on core values. Included under ‘equity’ is the update on Dismantling Racism and CDH offered a Recommended Book List focused on anti-racism as outreach for all CDH community members who are interested in learning more about the topic.
  • Members of the Student Advisory Group met with the Steering Committee to present some areas of concern/action that came from the student perspective.
  • AFAM (We Are Family: Creating A Safe Space To Succeed), a new Student Affinity Group for Black Students is formed and led by Crystal Flint. This group meets regularly during Flex and is open to all students of color.
  • The Communications Committee of the Steering Committee responded to student concerns by seeking input via a Student Focus Group centered on Diversity in CDH’s Marketing and Communications. The group met over lunch/Flex.