Anti-Racism Task Force Final Report
September 13, 2021
Dear Students and Colleagues,
The launch of Drexel's Anti-Racism Task Force in summer 2020 grew out of our collective resolve to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable university environment — one where all students, faculty and professional staff are recognized and valued for their individual skills and talents, rather than judged through the damaging lenses of racial bias, profiling and discrimination. Task force members and leaders have worked diligently over the past year to develop a wide range of proposed strategies and measures both to support our diverse Drexel community, especially our Black and brown members, and to root out and dismantle racism where it exists in University policies, practices and culture. I am now pleased to present their report, Toward an Anti-Racist Drexel [PDF], along with their recommendations for positioning Drexel to confront and eradicate structural racism and inequality — on our campus and throughout society.
The intentional work to create an anti-racist university in actions and words was long overdue and essential to our teaching, research and service enterprise moving forward. The task force has forced us to undertake inquiries and discussions that often have been difficult and uncomfortable. But they also have been illuminating, productive and, in many cases, cathartic. And while a good number of the recommended changes and measures will not be easy to implement, the report nonetheless provides a roadmap toward undoing racism and realizing our shared goal of a safe and truly inclusive and welcoming Drexel community.
I encourage all of you to read the full report and rededicate yourselves, as I have, to lifelong learning in order to eliminate racism in every aspect of our lives. Over the past 15 months, I have deepened my understanding about racism by listening closely to the co-chairs of the subcommittees; by immersing myself in our anti-racism and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) educational offerings; by engaging in a galvanizing senior leadership retreat to raise our awareness and sensitivity to the ways racism manifests itself at Drexel and throughout society; and, by taking a DEI enterprise learning module.
After reviewing all of the report's recommendations, I feel an ever greater sense of urgency about tackling the University's shortcomings head-on and taking all necessary steps to eradicate racism in our community. Never again should our Black and brown students, faculty and professional staff — or any members of our Drexel family — have their success impeded, their safety threatened, or mental health and well-being harmed by systemic challenges and barriers, much less, by instances of overt racism.
Let us also remember, as the task force members remind us, "Institutions that cultivate diversity and advance equity and inclusion outperform their peers that fail to do so — both in reputation among prospective students, faculty and staff, and in their impact upon society. Indeed, rigorously diverse and inclusive universities excel at delivering a high-quality educational experience to every student and at producing transformational top-tier research. Put simply: An inclusive, anti-racist Drexel is a stronger Drexel — more innovative, more effective, more competitive and better positioned to meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond."
I pledge that we will mount an all-out, long-term effort to realize this vision of a better, stronger Drexel. We recognize that we face daunting challenges ahead. But as a comprehensive teaching and research institution in service to the public good, we are uniquely equipped to educate ourselves about racism and to put our values and commitment to justice into practice.
I want to thank the task force co-chairs for their leadership: 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. We are all grateful, too, for the hard work of the chairs and members of the 11 subcommittees [PDF] created by the task force, who dedicated their time and ideas to making our University one we can all be proud of.
The task force co-chairs are looking forward to hosting town hall discussions on the final report in the coming weeks. If you have any questions or comments about the report, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join me in taking up this challenge and, together, doing the difficult work of building a thriving university community that truly welcomes and respects everyone.