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The North Central Green and Memorial hall

To the College of Education and Human Development community,

I know that all of you are aware of the extreme pain and frustration that many of our black colleagues, students, friends and their allies are feeling in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, which follows a long list of tragedies that the entire black community has endured as a lasting legacy of enslavement and systemic racism in our country. The pain, anger and fear that many are feeling is evident and understandable. This comes on top of daily news about inequitable outcomes among black and brown Americans in health, leading to disproportionate rates of death from the coronavirus, and unemployment and income disparities from the stay-at-home mandates.

Every day, and especially at this moment, we need to collectively stand up to racism and social injustices. I believe it is important for each of us, in our own way, to reach out to our black colleagues, students and friends, acknowledge their pain and frustration as well as our collective responsibility in allowing these actions and their consequences to occur over and over again. We need to listen and walk with them.

And we need to act. As one of my colleagues at UD recently said, we need to see ourselves in the solutions and in the problems. In a campus-wide message on June 4, President Assanis called upon the University community to expand diversity and promote inclusion and equity in our community. In that spirit, the College of Education and Human Development will renew our efforts to champion diversity, equity and inclusion and confront all forms of racism to create a campus where all of our students, faculty and staff feel welcomed, included and appreciated.

Yesterday, I met with the chairs and directors serving in the College of Education and Human Development. While there have been efforts underway for many years to enhance diversity and inclusion, we recognize the need to do more. Many of our CEHD leaders have already initiated actions to begin to address institutional racism; many are already working at the nexus of social justice, education, and human services and we are grateful for their guidance and input.

We will work with the entire University to ensure that we take the steps and actions that President Assanis outlined in his June 4 letter. In addition, we will closely examine CEHD practices, curricula and resources to enhance opportunities to learn from each others’ experiences, intervene in instances where we witness social injustices, and improve our overall faculty, staff and student diversity. Diversity by itself is not enough, but diversity is a necessary step in creating an inclusive climate within the College. Also, we will set into motion specific initiatives this fall to improve the inclusivity of our climate. Over the next weeks and months, we will get started on these initiatives as we chart a renewed course for building a climate of inclusive excellence in the College.

Through our partnerships throughout Delaware, we will continue to work toward more equitable outcomes for children, youth and their families statewide. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with others including P-12 educators and administrators, early care and education providers, nonprofit organizations, and state agencies to address the root causes of inequitable and insufficient outcomes, especially among minority populations. And, we can amplify this through our research to identify truly effective policies and practices.

Thank you for your commitment to a more inclusive College and University community.

Gary T. Henry
Dean, College of Education and Human Development
University of Delaware