Anti-Racism at Drexel
As a wave of Black Lives Matter protests swept across the United States and the world in late spring 2020, calling for an end to police brutality and other forms of systemic racism, members of the Drexel community not only joined the marches and demonstrations in their communities, they also demanded change at the University. Through phone calls, emails, letters, petitions and demonstrations, Black students, faculty and professional staff – and their allies – shared their hurt and frustration, and they outlined ways the University could and should be a more welcoming, inclusive, equitable and anti-racist institution.
These sentiments were not new. Many members of the Drexel community had been calling for change for years, and the University had recently taken steps to strengthen its diversity, equity and inclusion through a restructuring of the Office of Equality and Diversity and the appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer. On June 8, 2020, the University held a virtual community discussion on race, which had over 700 participants. Out of that forum and many other smaller discussions held with stakeholders across the University, President John Fry announced the formation of the Anti-Racism Task Force on June 26, 2020, charged with dismantling racism in University policies and practices.
The larger goal of weaving anti-racism into the very fabric of life at Drexel was also incorporated into the Strategic Plan as a necessary component of designing the University’s future. Institutions that are diverse, equitable and inclusive are better equipped to provide a high-quality education to every student, produce top-tier research, and be ranked higher by prospective students than those that fail to do so. An anti-racist Drexel is a stronger Drexel — better positioned to meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond.
Drexel's Anti-Racism Task Force is led by:
- Kim Gholston, vice president and chief diversity officer
- Aroutis Foster, associate professor of education and associate dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies
- Lucy Kerman, senior vice provost for University and Community Partnerships; and
- Subir Sahu, senior vice president for Student Success.
The Task Force includes a team of co-chairs for 11 committees that critically examined a full range of University activities, encompassing each of the following major areas:
- Undergraduate Student Life
- Graduate and Doctoral Student Life
- Admissions and Prospective Students
- Faculty Recruitment and Retention
- Academic Curriculum and Program Review
- Trauma and Mental Health Supports
- Professional Staff Recruitment and Retention
- Learning and Education
- Business Practices
- Community Engagement
- Policies and Procedures
Drexel community feedback about systemic issues around racial equity, inclusion and justice at the institution informed the broad topic areas that make up the 11 committees. Rather than adopt a top-down approach, the committees were empowered to explore their respective areas with a critical eye, letting short- and long-term targets come into focus organically. While these 11 areas were deemed the most overarching, the committees did address other related topics that arose through their investigations. The Task Force invited broad representation for these working committees from undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, professional staff and alumni.
View the Task Force structure and co-chairs on this PDF.
Task Force Timeline
- Starting in mid-summer 2020, the committees met weekly and committee co-chairs met biweekly.
- Task Force co-chairs held office hours for the University community on Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m.
- Task Force shared preliminary reports and recommendations with senior leadership in October 2020.
- Task Force committees finalized their recommendations in late winter 2021, followed by presentations to senior leadership and a series of community town halls in the early spring to discuss the recommendations with the University community.
- Final report written and posted on the OED website in mid- to late-spring 2021. Task Force Recommendations will be housed and tracked on this page.
The Anti-Racism Demographic Dashboard reflects the access, achievement and representation opportunities on which Drexel's Anti-Racism Task Force based their recommendations for the University. Using data from Tableau, the dashboard conveys racial demographic trends and breakdowns among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and professional staff over the course of the past few years. View the Dashboard
While the Anti-Racism Task Force was given space and time to conduct its research and formulate recommendations, the University took swift action to begin addressing the need for systemic reforms immediately, taking the following actions from summer 2020 through winter 2021: