Dear Members of the University Community,
With important conversations about race taking place across the nation and on the Carnegie Mellon campus, this is a good time to reaffirm our values of mutual respect, and reiterate our commitment to do more to make this a more diverse and inclusive campus.
Racism is real. It is a global problem and an American problem. Because Carnegie Mellon University is a microcosm of those societies, racism exists here, too. We have a particular duty to combat it: A diverse and inclusive community is the foundation for excellence in research, creativity, learning and human development, and is, therefore, at the core of our mission as a university. With humility in the face of this deep-rooted and complex challenge, we also have a particular opportunity: As a community devoted to rigorous analysis, thoughtful exchange and problem-solving, we have the tools and the venues to confront our own shortcomings.
This responsibility and this opportunity are reflected vividly in the university’s new strategic plan, informed by valuable community participation during the past year. A diverse and inclusive community is one of our top-level goals as a university, and the plan’s strategies to build diversity are deeply interconnected with a variety of process and outcome goals across CMU’s interests and activities. The commitment to this principle came through clearly at every level of the planning, voiced by students, faculty, staff and senior leadership. Implementing these strategies, with tangible goals and milestones, is now among our top priorities as an institution and a community. The implementation of the strategic plan also provides opportunities for every member of the university community to continue to provide input.
Many people at this university have been living out that commitment for a number of years, often led by students, whose energy and experiences help shape CMU’s spirit of community. At the leadership level, we have made diversity the starting point for campus-wide engagements and numerous smaller gatherings of faculty, students, staff and trustees. Faculty and deans in the colleges have taken concrete steps to reshape the recruitment and hiring process for faculty, while advancing efforts to improve student recruitment, experience and success. Through established organizations and governance as well as grass-roots efforts, students are constructively engaging one another and their faculty and staff. Across this spectrum, we see genuine determination to make a difference.
At the same time, every single participant in these conversations and programs believes that we, as a community, must do more. Many underrepresented groups at the university face prejudices specific to their situations both inside and outside our campus, and we will fight for equity in every case. It does not take anything away from that comprehensive commitment to inclusion to acknowledge that this year we have heard, in a special way, about the challenges facing black Americans and those facing black students here at CMU and around the nation. Each of us bears responsibility for the kind of community we create, and so we must continue to seek new ways to contribute to a university that lives up to our core values. With that in mind, we will announce a variety of specific new opportunities early in 2016 that will allow us to hear from and better understand one another, and keep working together toward real progress.
We look forward to your participation in these efforts and are grateful for your commitment to making a better university and a better society.
Subra Suresh, President, Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Farnam Jahanian, Provost