Statement of commitment to diversity and inclusivity

Nov. 24, 2015

In the past month, activity on campuses around the country—including our own— has reminded us that genuine, active, and engaged diversity and inclusivity remain elusive. People from quite different perspectives are engaging in point and counterpoint on matters of history, symbolism, and viscerally felt experience. These activities call our attention to matters of utmost importance in our particular moment of history and deserve our finest efforts. They represent, I believe, a renewal of determination and aspiration that offers hope for greater levels of understanding, shared vision, respect, and justice.
 
This aspiration must energize not only conversation but also the development of strategies for action that will move us forward. Still, dialogue and deliberation are critical to our progress. We live in a very complex, dynamic environment, where history, economics, social status, education, class, race, and many other factors converge—complicating how we engage over difficult matters. It is increasingly clear that we must not only address policies but also educate our hearts and minds about each other’s experience.
 
To ensure a more effective way of addressing these issues here at Emory, Provost and Executive Vice President Claire Sterk has engaged the deans and other senior leaders in examining questions being raised about curriculum, faculty composition, and other academic matters. Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair has been in close communication with the leaders of Black Students of Emory and others on Emory’s campus to address specific demands outlined in messages received in recent weeks. Additionally, Dean Nair will be meeting with Emory students next week to plan an intensive retreat in January to advance the conversation, focusing specifically on action steps, accountability measures, and transparency. I invite you to join me in supporting these activities by lending your voice and by suggesting other initiatives for us to take in working actively toward a shared vision.
 
Emory has some distance to cover before the reality of our lived experience matches our vision. We have made significant strides as a university, but this important work must continue unabated. Together we must be dedicated to working to achieve Emory's full potential for exemplary research, teaching, public dialogue, and change in matters of race and the intersecting dimensions of human difference.
 
As we prepare to pause in this season of Thanksgiving to remember all for which we are grateful, I am especially thankful for the strength and aspiration of this community, which can and will make a difference for the better.
 
Sincerely,

Jim Wagner
President