Next Steps: College of Sciences Task Force on Racial Equity

June 23, 2020

A letter from Susan Lozier, Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair:

Many voices have expressed pain, anger and frustration over the past few weeks about the recent deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police and at the centuries of racial injustice. While strides have been made in the past, recent cries for change have too often been met with inaction and indifference in this country. Change is needed, and words alone are not enough. There is plenty of work to do at national, state and local levels, but there is also work to do within our own College of Sciences community. There are steps that we can individually take to educate ourselves on countering racism, such as learning how to be anti-racist.  Transformative change within our College, however, will take collective input and collective action. For that reason, I am charging a task force to address the following two questions:

1. How do we build a College of Sciences community that is just, fair, and equitable for all members of our community – staff, students and faculty? 

To answer this question, we should ask: Who does not feel welcomed, supported, or valued in our community? What practices, written or unwritten, create a discriminatory environment?  What practices should we dismantle? Which should we construct?

2. How do we attract and retain Black faculty, students and staff to our community?

To answer this question, we should ask: Why have previous efforts to attract Black faculty failed? Why is the number of Black graduate students so low? What practices, written or unwritten, are responsible for these outcomes? What practices should we dismantle? Which should we construct?

Task Force Members

  • Co-Chair: Lewis Wheaton, Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences
  • Co-Chair: Matt Baker, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor of Mathematics
  • Tamara Bogdanovic, Associate Professor, School of Physics
  • Emma Blandford, Assistant Director, Living Learning Communities, College of Sciences
  • Dania Ibrahim, Undergraduate, Neuroscience
  • Jasmine Martin, Assistant to the Chair, School of Biological Sciences
  • Lea Marzo, Assistant to the Chair, School of Mathematics
  • Minda Monteagudo, Graduate Student, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences    
  • Keith Oden, Director for Academic Diversity, College of Sciences
  • Mary Peek, Principal Academic Professional, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Doby Rahnev, Assistant Professor, School of Psychology
  • Alonzo Whyte, Academic Professional, School of Biological Sciences

I expect the work of this task force to commence this summer and to finish next May. Along the way, there will be many conversations across the College as we work to answer these questions and chart a path forward. While we do not have answers today, collective good faith will ensure that we can effect transformative change in the years ahead.

To close, I want to thank each of these members of our community for so readily agreeing to serve on this task force.  Please extend your thanks to them as well.


LAST CALL: Today, June 23, is the last day to nominate individuals to our first College of Sciences Staff Council. CoS students, staff, and faculty are invited to nominate CoS staff members who they would like to represent the College. Nominate staff members here.