A Message to the Community from President Crawford Announcing New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force

June 16, 2020

Dear Miami Community,

Once again, we find ourselves and our society outraged over the systemic racism and brutality inflicted on the Black community. This. Must. End. I am speaking up in solidarity with so many in our nation and world, denouncing these unjust and brutal attacks and killings, and calling for an end to injustices and systemic racism in our communities and nation.

This is a critical moment in history. People of all races and backgrounds are standing together with the Black community who for generations have led the fight for equality. This movement is catalyzing many to embrace their role and responsibility and to speak up to eradicate bigotry, intolerance, injustice, and inequality.

I have spent the past two weeks speaking with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and colleagues on the recent and ongoing acts of racism and brutality against Black communities. Like them, I am filled with emotion – sickened by the frequent acts of violence perpetrated against Black community members, frustrated by our lack of progress as a nation in the face of persistent inequalities, angry at the injustices that pervade our systems and institutions, and heartbroken over the pain and suffering of our fellow citizens and human beings. I write to you knowing that Miami students, faculty, staff, and community are suffering unjust pain, fear, anger, and frustration. This pain has gone on far too long.

At Miami University, we must all work to advance real and transformative change. We value every one of our community members. As I listen to Miamians who are in populations that are marginalized, particularly Black community members, I hear the frustration and pain in their experiences with racism, bigotry, and intolerance.

All of us, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, must come together and act with courage and determination to make Miami everything it can be – a place where every person can learn, grow and thrive. We have much work to do to reach the values that we proclaim.

Good intentions and kind words are not enough. We must take action to advance and accelerate. We must uphold our mission to teach and serve, to send members of this community into a global and increasingly diverse society with dedication and passion to serve humanity and lead with inclusivity.

I acknowledge that not all of our efforts in diversity and inclusion have worked. But we will not give up until we succeed. We will add, adapt, and advance with fresh ideas and a commitment to become as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as we can be.

We must act now for transformative change. I have charged a President’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, co-chaired by Dr. Vicka Bell-Robinson from Student Life and Dr. Anthony James, associate professor of Family Science and Social Work, to take action and explore new avenues. We will announce the members of the task force in the coming days. It will include students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners. I am grateful to Dr. Bell-Robinson and Dr. James for their dedicated service to Miami, for their wisdom and input in developing the charge, for engaging community members to refine the charge, and for leading this task force. This is their vision and statement, followed by a feedback portal link, and the charge.

The charge stands on five pillars collectively designed to build a more inclusive, diverse, inviting, safe and welcoming climate: Dialogue and Allyship; Advocacy and Partnerships; Cultural Competency; Structural and Resource Support; and Inclusion and Accountability. The charge is broad and far-reaching, with much latitude, starting with the creation of robust dialogue opportunities for our community members. We will review our curriculum and co-curricular programs and activities to ensure deeper understanding and engagement. We will initiate and expand programs for advocacy and allyship. We will enhance financial support for pedagogy and research. We will expand our police officer training and engage more community and campus involvement. We will scrutinize our inclusive excellence efforts and find ways to better coordinate and elevate them. We will redouble our efforts with our partners, companies, startups, and other universities. The task force will conduct a review of previous reports and actions Miami has taken to improve climate – and those we failed to bring fully to fruition – and assess our next steps to effect lasting change in every dimension of our life and work at Miami. We invite all Miamians to join in this endeavor.

Our vision and values at Miami University reflect our highest aspirations for ourselves and for our community. We must continually reflect, self-examine, honestly acknowledge when we enjoy privilege, and work to root out inequities and injustices that hinder progress. We must steadfastly uphold inclusive excellence throughout Miami and our community.

This is our charge. This is my commitment to you.

Gregory P. Crawford