In George Floyd’s Memory, Drexel Continues Journey to Become an Anti-Racist Institution
May 25, 2022
Dear members of the Drexel community,
On this two-year anniversary of the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and the ensuing wave of Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the country and the world, we reflect on the commitments we have made as a University community to look inward, to combat racism in all its forms and to work together to build a stronger institution that is proudly and unequivocally anti-racist.
As Drexel continues on its journey to become an anti-racist university, we have created a path for all students, faculty, professional staff and community members to join in this work. Drexel’s Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTF), established in June 2020, grew out of this collective resolve to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable University environment.
While the ARTF’s work had an intentional focus on our Black Drexel community, the resulting report and the University’s commitments provide a roadmap for building a more welcoming, inclusive, equitable and anti-racist institution for everyone. As the ARTF report states: “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."
Commitment to Becoming an Anti-Racist University
In forming the Anti-Racism Task Force and committing to change, Drexel’s leadership acknowledged that committing to being an anti-racist institution means that Drexel fully participates in work that produces and sustains racial equity through policies and practices such as:
- Piloting the test-optional admissions policy to mitigate barriers to the recruitment of Black students due to systemic and structural disparities that persist.
- Establishing inclusive hiring practices for faculty and professional staff search committees to increase the pool of candidates from underrepresented groups.
- Reviewing the University’s approach to policing and public safety by commissioning an external review by 21CP Solutions.
- Promoting self-nominations for programs such as Drexel Leaders 20/20 to ensure that professional and leadership development opportunities exist for all faculty and professional staff who have the relevant interest, skills and experience.
- Applying an equity lens to the review of proposed policies by intentionally analyzing the potential impact of policy design and implementation on underserved and marginalized individuals and groups.
- Increasing racial diversity on the Drexel Board of Trustees.
Integration with Strategic Plan
The University’s commitments to change are woven into the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan, which establishes inclusion as a shared value; sets an imperative to foster and strengthen an inclusive and equity-driven culture; and prioritizes building a culture of equity as one of six top initiatives. As we continue to pursue the commitments identified in the ARTF final report, that work is being integrated into the broader work of Strategic Plan implementation wherever appropriate.
Over the past several months, 43 academic and administrative units have been documenting their goals and progress toward some of the University’s 60-plus commitments to change, while identifying resources needed and metrics for monitoring success. In Fall 2022, the status of progress toward all commitments will begin to be tracked on the Toward an Anti-Racist Drexel website. The website also has a new Frequently Asked Questions section that addresses many of the questions that have arisen from members of the Drexel community about the ARTF, its final report and implementation of the University’s commitments. Additional questions can be sent to email@example.com.
Major Accomplishments and Milestones to Date
By integrating the anti-racism commitments into the Strategic Plan, we are backing our commitments with institutional support and funding. While many of the commitments will require additional resources that may take time to build, many other meaningful commitments only require intentionality, process improvements, or other actions that don’t require additional funds to implement.
Examples of progress made to date include:
- Launched the Center for Black Culture, with dedicated space in the Rush Building.
- Established the Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements, and Population Health Equity with support from a major gift by Dana and David Dornsife. Housed in the Dornsife School of Public Health and led by Assistant Professor Sharrelle Barber, ScD, the Ubuntu Center unites diverse partners to generate and translate evidence, accelerate anti-racism solutions and transform the health of communities locally, nationally and globally.
- Increased focus and resources on student recruitment efforts and made changes to admissions practices leading to an increase in representation of underrepresented students of color in the first-year class (20% in 2021 compared to 12% in 2020).
- Adopted more inclusive hiring practices to increase the representation of faculty of color. Over the past two years, 16% of Drexel’s faculty hires have been faculty of color. When the ARTF began its work, the University was at 4% faculty of color.
- Reestablished the Africana Studies Program.
- Began reimagining public safety through improvements focused on three major areas that will be addressed in a forthcoming communication: transparency, training and community oversight, including the establishment of the Drexel Public Safety Oversight Committee.
- Mandated Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Training for faculty, professional staff and senior leadership.
- Founded a new Drexel Indigenous Students of the Americas student group.
- Developed plans to increase the number of BRIDGE (Building Relationships in Diverse Group Experiences) programs modeled after the LeBow BRIDGE program to support the success of underrepresented minority and first-generation students. A recent $10 million pledge from Drexel alumnus Ronald W. Disney and his wife Kathleen will support the BRIDGE program and civic partnerships.
- Inaugurated a new special Commencement celebration (La Ultimo Noche De Año or LUNA), to recognize the achievements of our graduating Dragons of the Latin American and Spanish Caribbean diasporas.
- Increased staffing and resources in the Office of Equality and Diversity and the Student Counseling Center.
- Received two National Science Foundation Advance grants examining faculty salary equity and the policies and practices related to the promotion of women and people of color.
- Received a National Institutes of Health FIRST grant ($14.4 million) to hire, retain and support diverse, early career researchers with a focus on health disparities research on aging, chronic disease and/or environmental determinants.
- Established the Policy Council to help identify and eliminate barriers proposed polices may impose on underserved and marginalized individuals and groups.
- Initiated recruitment for the Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Established the Drexel Institute for Inclusive and Equitable Teaching, which is part of the University’s ongoing programming to promote equitable teaching practices and anti-racist pedagogies through a highly interactive, cohort-based program.
- Increased representation of people of color as artists or models in campus artwork and sculptures.
We recognize our work toward building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable institution has just begun, and we remain steadfast in our commitment. Together, we can achieve Drexel’s shared goals of inclusion and anti-racism.
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer