Carnegie Mellon University
June 05, 2020

A Message from the Dean: Dietrich’s Response

Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-6094

Dear Dietrich Community,

I am horrified by the murder of George Floyd, the tragedies of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and the seemingly endless parade of similar examples of racism and police brutality against African Americans that persist in America. Dietrich College stands with the Black community, and acknowledges their grief, trauma and pain. My goal is to make our college’s commitment real, both now and in the months and years to come.

People rightly push to see more action and fewer words, so let me outline what we intend to do over the next several weeks:

  • First, we will hold facilitated department-level gatherings of faculty, staff, and students, at which we will come together to reflect on current and ongoing incidents of injustice, inequity, and abuse of power, and solicit suggestions for concrete action.
  • Second, we will hold a college-level event involving faculty experts and community activists to discuss issues about policing in the Black community and actions we can take to be anti-racist. We will also share and discuss suggestions made by participants in our department-level gatherings.
  • Third, we will hold a college-level gathering at which we will present and invite comment on a new strategic plan to address diversity, equity, and inclusion that over 20 Dietrich College faculty, staff and students have been working on for the past year. We will highlight the action items from this plan that are already in place or soon to be implemented, and discuss how the concrete steps prompted by the departmental and college gatherings can improve and add to this plan.

As President Jahanian said in his message on May 30, we must “… confront and dismantle racism and injustice wherever they exist.” I firmly believe that we must do so continuously, not episodically. We need to be in this for the long haul, and we need to attend to it relentlessly. As a community, we have an enormous amount of work to do to improve our own culture and to deepen and expand our diversity and inclusivity. The time to act is now, but not only now.  

Supporting our community is more important than ever. Now is the time to reach out to one another, especially those who are feeling vulnerable, and listen to their concerns with empathy as we all experience and internalize these injustices differently. We are a strong community, and we will be stronger by doing the hard work together.  

More to come. 

Thank you,


Richard Scheines
Bess Family Dean, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor of Philosophy