I am writing with a heavy heart at the beginning of this last week of spring quarter 2020. It is impossible to adequately express the wrenching pain and outrage at the unconscionable killing of George Floyd, the latest of countless victims of systemic racism, racial hatred, violence, and police brutality. The accumulation of losses is beyond horrifying and carries an immeasurable toll – loss of opportunity, loss of hope, loss of dignity, and loss of life. We are also in the midst of a pandemic that has focused a separate lens on the inequity and injustice so deeply entrenched in our society and institutions. Its health and economic impacts have been disproportionately borne by communities of color, especially Black Americans, just as the relentless and insidious affronts to their humanity have for decades, including profound impacts on our own students, staff, and faculty.

Students, both graduating and continuing, your unwavering commitment to dismantling systemic racism – including in our own institution, in partnership with those faculty and staff who have embraced this work – gives me tremendous hope. I am thinking of you in these final days of the term, especially. This is not the spring quarter, nor the final week, that anyone had imagined. The need to celebrate you and encourage you is stronger than ever.

And yet, through all of this, convocation approaches. I am also thinking of our incredible staff and faculty who are so dedicated to providing a powerful academic experience and promising opportunities for our students. I extend my gratitude to ESO for supporting their fellow students all year and during this particular time. Thank you for sharing resources for allies to “put weight behind [our] words,” including the 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. For those of us born with white privilege, this list suggests both starting and continuing points for anti-racism action.

As we close out this academic year, I challenge each of us as individuals, and the Evans School as an institution, to respond to both recent events and this cumulative history as an imperative. We must and will make anti-racism work the cornerstone, focus, and overarching mission of the coming year. As President Cauce urges, “Weep, then act.”

To all of you, please take care of yourselves and each other, and please reach out if you need assistance.