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 (Summer 2021)

With the significant amount of input from all the school’s stakeholders in late spring, 2021, several critical initiatives were prioritized for implementation during the summer. While many of these require the faculty/staff and students to be back on campus, it was important to set a foundation to allow the important work to continue at the beginning of the school year.

  • Creation of Director of Diversity position. Stan Davis ‘88, a DEI specialist for schools and organizations, was hired as the Interim Director of Diversity with specific responsibility to direct the formalization of a comprehensive DEI plan, work directly with both student and faculty, and to lead the search for a permanent Director.  

  • Renewal of Dr. Anton Treuer as a Diversity Consultant.

  • Creation of Student Advocate position. Crystal Flint, with 15 years of experience in working in advocacy with students of color at the high school and college level, was hired to be a liaison between students and administration, lead AFAM, work with student leaders on cultural celebrations, and provide opportunities to increase student engagement. 

  • Enhancement of mental health resources for people of color. Rev. Dr. Ronald Bell will provide psychological and spiritual support for faculty and students, including individual counseling for CDH students.

  • Development of a Student Success and Mentoring program for students of color. A current employment offer is being considered by a candidate.

  • Continuation of the Dismantling Racism Steering Committee, consisting of faculty, staff, alumni, Board members, and parents, to continue its important work and meet regularly during the school year.  Individual committees are encouraged to meet as often as they see fit. 

  • Continuation of the Student Advisory Board to continue its important work once students are back on campus.

  • Continued commitment to the AFam group (African-American student affinity group), with a school-year kickoff meeting schedule with the Interim Director of Diversity in early September.

  • Year-long commitment to Faculty/Staff professional development on racial sensitivity, implicit bias and cultural competency, and anti-bias classroom.  A plan to support and guide faculty and staff is being developed, utilizing experts in the field outside of CDH.
    • A 3.5 hour professional development session dedicated to DEI was presented during Faculty/Staff workshops in August, 2021. We are providing mandatory formal cultural competence training to all faculty/staff this year as part of our ongoing Professional Development Plan  
    • Bi-weekly facilitated DEI-focused discussion groups will be offered for faculty/staff.
    • Bi-weekly, facilitated DEI-focused facilitated literature study groups will be offered for faculty/staff 
  • Commitment for the President and Principal to meet directly with student leaders during the year.
  • Year-long opportunities for students to expand their personal understanding of racial justice. 
    • Bi-weekly, facilitated discussion groups for students will be offered to all students.
    • Bi-weekly facilitated literature study groups for students will be offered to all students
  • Establishment of a framework to review the student handbook, discipline policies and practices for evidence of bias and develop a plan to address any bias or cultural insensitivity.
    • A new ‘Hate Speech’ policy was developed and adopted starting in 2021-22, which lists clear violation consequences. This is published in the Handbook, and will be directly presented to the students as part of their annual orientation to the school year.
    • Work on specific areas of concern, such as uniforms or hair policies, was begun as part of the Dismantling Racism Initiative, and will continue this year.  
  • Commitment to address the recruitment of people of color for faculty/staff positions.  

  • 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.

May 2021: Informing Our Comprehensive Plan

  • 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.