To Members of the Clark Community,
Racism and structural inequities have been overlooked, tolerated, and accepted — in fact were institutionalized national practice — in our country for centuries. This painful and shameful reality and its implications in particular for African Americans and Black people have been laid bare again by the recent, senseless killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.
We, leaders of Clark University, are committed to counteracting and doing our very best to end systemic racism and inequity and to actively promoting justice and equality at our institution. We are determined to achieve positive impacts and lasting change not only in the areas for which we have responsibility — teaching, research, community engagement, admissions, athletics, student services, campus police — but also across the entire University.
This moment in our history and the courageous voices demanding change awaken us even more fully to the imperative of this work—a reality on which we will all reflect with special attention tomorrow, Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the end of slavery in our country. Amid a pandemic — which disproportionately infects and kills racially underrepresented communities — people of every age and background across the country and internationally have stood together to demand an end to police violence against Black people and a commitment to fixing the justice system so that it treats everyone equally and fairly. These same strong voices have joined in calling America to translate its values of equality into action like never before and in all realms of society. One powerful story after another has made it painfully clear how much work has yet to be done and how systemic racism undercuts not only individual opportunity, but, much more insidiously, entire communities and their ability to thrive.
We know this to be true at Clark. Systemic racism is part of Clark too. Racist acts happen at Clark too. Our University values express Clark’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equity. But we have far to go. As an educational institution, as a community of students, faculty, and staff — of teachers and learners — we must do better. The students in our charge have every right to expect it. The faculty and staff we serve alongside are expressing their fervent commitment that Clark will live up to those expectations. Each of us oversees a major academic or administrative unit at the University, and we are united in our determination to take action so that Clark gets far closer to living up to the values it espouses.
First, we know that those among us who have experienced unspoken privileges of being white in America, or have not faced the biases and discrimination that Black people continue to face, have much to learn. We have been affected by what we have seen and heard these last few weeks and the stark attention these events have brought to the brutal realities of racism in our country. And much of the recognition is humbling. In our professional lives, for example, we advocate for and believe in the importance of inclusion and diversity but too often leave the burden of change to colleagues who are people of color. No more. Each of us is determined to hold ourselves to much greater account for proactively pursuing changes in practices that will make equity, diversity, and inclusion a truly shared responsibility at Clark. As part of our commitment to learning, and guided by the University’s Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion, we will be the first at Clark to engage, as soon as possible and certainly before the end of the calendar year, in the anti-racism training provided by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). The model of the NCCJ, a human relations organization that promotes inclusion and acceptance through education and advocacy, helps build inclusive organizations for diverse perspectives. We look forward to growing from the experience.
Second, through a shared effort, we commit to returning to the Clark community within 30 days with a plan of action for the University that will advance the goals of equity, inclusion, diversity, and respect for all peoples across Clark. This will include proposals related to such matters as:
- New investments the University can make in practices or personnel to recruit, retain, and support students from Black and other historically underrepresented communities.
- New practices the University can implement to train and inform staff and faculty in bias awareness and anti-racist practices.
- Steps to better understand the lived experience of Clark students, employees, and alumni with Black and other historically underrepresented identities so that we can learn from errors, fix them, and implement systemic change.
- Initiatives to create and sustain new partnerships with faculty to build curricular offerings that accelerate how a Clark education helps uncover and eradicate the deep roots of systemic and institutional racism.
Third, we join in expressing our support without equivocation for the commitments that President Angel and President-elect Fithian have recently made to improve Clark’s ability to live up to its full mission. Many of these commitments were prompted by and communicated directly to Clark’s Black Student Union:
- To create a new leadership position, Assistant Dean for Equity and Student Success, within the Dean of Students division. This position will coordinate enhanced support for Black students and other marginalized students and assist with the development of outreach to faculty and staff, particularly to build better understanding of all Clark students’ experiences. We will each support the person appointed to this position in every way we can.
- To hire an additional mental health counselor specifically trained in working with students of color and in confronting racism.
- To expand training of all members of our community, and specifically anti-racism training. We will encourage every member of our staffs to pursue the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program for faculty, staff, and graduate students. Each of us who has not already earned this certificate will do so in the coming academic year.
- To establish a program to be completed by all faculty and staff that will include a component directly focused on anti-racist training and strategies. This program will be built in partnership with faculty since Clark operates through shared governance, which we embrace.
- To further diversify and increase anti-bias training of our University Police Department and explore new or different approaches to campus safety.
We will report to you — all members of the Clark community — on the progress we make in these and other initiatives each quarter for the next year and twice every year thereafter.
The present situation is intolerable, this work is urgent, and the need for genuinely transformational change at Clark is real. We commit ourselves to the learning, action, and leadership it requires. We invite each and every member of our community to join us as never before in living up to Clark’s values.
David P. Angel
David B. Fithian
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Associate Provost and Dean of Research and Graduate Studies
Professor of Geography
Director, IDCE and Professor of International Development, Community, and Environment
Vice President for Planning and Strategic Initiatives (July 1)
Dean, School of Management
Associate Professor of Management
Vice President of Government and Community Affairs
Vice President for University Advancement
Associate Provost and Dean of the College
Klein Distinguished Professor Associate Professor of English
Associate Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Associate Professor of English
E. Franklin Frazier Chair of African American Literature, Theory and Culture
Vice President of Information Technology and CIO
Dean, School of Professional Studies
Professor of the Practice
Interim Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Associate Provost and Dean of Students
Executive Vice President and CFO (July 1)
Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion
Director, Athletics and Recreation
Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid