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Grainger Engineering Faculty and Staff,

It is time for us to speak clearly, even when we repeat ourselves. So I want to share something from the note by Professors Lynford Goddard, Dallas Trinkle, and me that we sent earlier in the week:

“It is hard to fathom that in this day and age, race can affect the trajectory of one’s life or sadly, in the cases of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and many others, end it. But we must fathom it—and address it—because it goes right to the core of our humanity.

The lack of understanding and respect for our shared and equal dignity is pernicious and constant. Prejudice, racism, and discrimination, whether deadly or subtle, should have no place in our world. We stand with those who are actively fighting against racism and discrimination. Moreover, as members of The Grainger College of Engineering, we commit to doing the same.”

I ask each of you to join us. There are big, systemic issues that we must address as a college, but there are also things we can do individually.

The Grainger College of Engineering stands in support of the #ShutDownSTEM movement scheduled for Wednesday, June 10th. Operations-permitting and with applicable prior supervisory approval, you are strongly encouraged to use this day, or a day over the course of the next week, to educate yourself on ways you can support our faculty, staff, and students of color—on an ongoing basis, not just in these moments of crisis. We support all employees taking this dedicated time during the workday, including non-exempt employees, without loss of pay or use of paid benefit time.

What does taking this time actually mean? It means scheduling a dedicated block of time to learn more; rescheduling meetings; shutting down your email; reading books and articles and watching videos; and taking time to reflect on recent events and the stress that they cause every single person in our community.

Our daily work is so important, and we appreciate everyone’s contributions. We recognize these are things that you might not do during a regular workday. However, taking dedicated time is very important. We must support our faculty, staff, and students and address systemic issues within our society as a whole.

In support of this call to action:

My cabinet, administrative, and executive committees and I will begin our commitment by reading two specific articles and convene a special College leadership meeting to discuss what we have learned and how we can improve our College’s policies, practices, and culture.

The College will also host three Zoom meetings from 12:00-1:00 pm on the following dates for our faculty and staff to have open discussions on specific topics:

The Grainger College of Engineering is successful in its educational and research missions because we are bold. It is well past time for us to be bold in the way we address the dangerous and harmful role that racism plays in academia.