The tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, and the subsequent protests are a wake up call to the reality of racism in this country. To continue watching these all-too-frequent tragedies and not confront the systemic issue of racism is unacceptable. Making statements is not enough. Joining the chorus of voices in protest is not enough. America has been here before and the initial outrage and solidarity often give way to complacency and inaction. This moment has to be different. It is time for us to come together with more than words of support, and to engage in addressing racism and the underlying inequities that exist.
Higher education has an important and central role in addressing these issues. Universities must be inclusive and supportive places where students, faculty, staff, and the community come together to engage in discovery and to challenge ideas through dialogue. They must be places that encourage us to reflect on assumptions about ourselves and our relationships with each other. This is where the learning starts. We must embrace our differences, be willing to challenge long-held beliefs, and build on our collective strength to eliminate racism and inequality.
In the Gary W. Rollins College of Business we stand with our campus leadership, who have stated there is no place for racism and social injustice. As we begin our work of building an inclusive and tolerant community free from discrimination, we will listen to the voices of our students to understand their perspectives and concerns. We will plan meaningful dialogues on racism with our students, faculty, staff, and community partners, and develop ongoing programming to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The College will begin a five-year strategic planning process this fall and diversity, inclusion and equality will be a key part of our planning. Now is the time to measure ourselves by what we do and not by what we say.
We have a responsibility to address racism head on by pairing our words of change with action. Our response will reflect the strengths of the college—caring, compassionate, collaborative, courageous, curious, and committed—and will be measured by whether our actions match our words.
I look forward to continuing the conversation and working together,