The Phased Plan for Return to Campus - Spring 2021
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In an email to the University community, President Steven Kaplan announced a number of new initiatives committed to enriching the University community, reinforcing the importance of an education that includes a critical examination of race and ethnicity, and ensuring the University is at the forefront of instilling in the next generation of leaders – particularly those who take an oath to serve and protect us – the ideals that unite communities, empower racial equality, and transcend division.
June 6, 2020
Dear Members of the University Community,
I am heartbroken, and I am angry, at the ongoing injustice, police brutality, racial inequality, racism, and intolerance that continue to exist in our country. Inaction and silence are not options.
On our own campus, we became aware of disturbing remarks on social media by a member of our community last Friday – remarks that are the antithesis of everything we stand for. The incident is one we are addressing with utmost seriousness. We have launched an internal investigation and engaged independent investigators to look into the matter. We have made the decision to suspend the individual's acceptance into a graduate program at the University of New Haven (which I just learned about yesterday), to suspend any of the individual's remaining athletic eligibility, and to suspend the individual's right to attend either the Class of 2020 virtual commencement ceremony in July or the scheduled in-person commencement ceremony in December, pending the results of these investigations.
I have heard from many of our students as well as alumni and friends of the University about the brutal death of George Floyd and other African Americans. I have heard their anger, frustration, and despair, but also their concerns that the University has not enacted more effective responses to combat systemic racism. I also saw in their communications words of hope for better days ahead.
To this end, I am announcing a number of new initiatives committed to enriching our University community, reinforcing the importance of an education that includes a critical examination of race and ethnicity, and ensuring we are at the forefront of instilling in the next generation of leaders – particularly those who take an oath to serve and protect us – the ideals that unite communities, empower racial equality, and transcend division.
I asked Lorenzo Boyd, director of the University's Center for Advanced Policing and assistant provost of diversity and inclusion, to join me in a conversation Friday with a group of students who reached out under the umbrella OrganizeUNewHaven. I expect this will lead to a wider collaboration designed to, in their words, "promote inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for the University of New Haven community."
We are vigorously examining ways to incorporate required classes and co-curricular programming across the University curriculum that is focused on fostering meaningful dialogue on race, diversity, and inclusion and combatting racism and intolerance. Groups began meeting last week on this critical topic.
I am immediately undertaking a search for the position of Chief Diversity Officer for the University.
I have charged the University's leadership team with developing a plan – with deadlines and expectations – to quickly and extensively diversify our faculty and staff so that it is more representative of the students we teach.
Ultimately, we must each play an active role in these efforts and in creating an environment we are proud of. In one of the many media interviews Dr. Boyd has done in the past few weeks, he perfectly captures a sentiment that I will use to guide how I respond, and I encourage others to do the same: "People are hurting and we need to acknowledge their pain." May we all pledge to be part of the solution. We can – and we must – do better.
What happened to George Floyd – and to far too many other African Americans across the country – is disgraceful and unacceptable. My commitment to you is that we, as a University, will play a prominent role in shaping the change that is needed. The time to act is now.