Condemnation and Extension’s Commitment to Inclusion

Statement from Karl J. Martin, Dean and Director

June 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few months we’ve seen a lot of incredible acts of kindness during the COVID-19 pandemic that demonstrate the human spirit and compassion for others.  Unfortunately, the incident last week that involved the senseless and shameful killing of George Floyd demonstrates the worst of human behavior and cannot be tolerated under any circumstance.  The UW-Madison Division of Extension condemns the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department that resulted in this tragic loss of human life.  There is no excuse for such violence.  We support and urge action to protect all members of our communities and create healthy environments for everyone.  Communities of color should not face fear of aggression from those meant to keep them safe.

Memorial and mural of George Floyd outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.

The makeshift memorial and mural outside Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on May 31, 2020. (Photo credit: Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

This is yet another example of racial discrimination and these types of actions and attitudes cannot be tolerated.  The purpose, vision, and values of Extension are in stark contrast to these types of actions and attitudes and we need to strongly support our colleagues, communities, and constituents during these challenging times.  Through our work and actions across Wisconsin we will continue to strive for a society that is free of racism, bigotry, and bias.  We are committed to working with community members and leaders to improve our efforts across the state.  Strengthening collaborations between Extension and our community partners includes efforts that reduce trust gaps and improve relations between law enforcement and Wisconsin communities.

I also want to underscore our ongoing commitment to inclusion both in Extension as a workplace and in all spaces where we carry out our programs and services. Extension’s mission and values embody being a partner that strives for positive change within communities across Wisconsin.  Our efforts at the state and local levels aim to create a positive, collaborative culture that includes and incorporates community voices and input.  More than 100 years ago, Extension was founded on the principle of reaching out to everyone across the state.  And as our mission has evolved over the years, we realize that we still have work to do in this area. That being said, our organization is better positioned to help us move forward than at any other point in our history.  Please know that your work is crucial to keeping our neighbors connected and focused on serving all who live and work in our communities.

I invite you to stay engaged in your communities and be a conduit for healing and change.  Extension’s Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance (OAIC) is a resource for you.  Stay tuned for information on an employee reflection Zoom discussion for midweek co-hosted by OAIC Director Dominic Ledesma and Human Development & Relationships Institute Director Danielle Hairston Green.  UW-Madison’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement also has a list of resources on its website.

Our best path forward is one where we are together serving as a connector for all community voices.  It’s a path Extension has walked for more than a century and one that will continue to shape the impact of our work around the state.



Karl J. Martin, Dean and Director

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension