Greetings to you all,
“How curious a land is this, how full of untold story, of tragedy and laughter, and the rich legacy of human life; shadowed with a tragic past, and big with future promise!”
-- W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois declared that “the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line” - the use of racial differences to put obstacles in the path of Black and Brown people, thereby denying them the opportunities and privileges that are their inherent right. Well into the 21st century, we find that inequities along racial lines endure. We acknowledge that discrimination based on race is still prevalent throughout the United States and - by extension - here at Le Moyne. Acknowledging these racial inequities is necessary in order to change them. With that in mind, we join Du Bois in recognizing our tragic past and acknowledging the future promise of our country and of our College. In this season of Christmas, as we celebrate in joyful hope the birth of Christ, we also work with hope and joy for progress on “the problem of the color line.”
The Fall semester was challenging in many ways as we diligently worked to keep our community safe from the coronavirus. Every member of the community worked hard, and we were able to keep our doors open and provide the quality Jesuit liberal arts education that is a distinctive characteristic of Le Moyne. At the same time, we are rising to the challenge of becoming anti-racist and working towards being a welcoming, open and inclusive community. We realize that deep, ongoing change will be needed to achieve our goal and we are committed to that effort. I am especially grateful for the inspiration and leadership of the Racial Justice Committee, the think tank I created over the summer to bring the best ideas of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and administrators together.
I wanted to provide you with some updates on the hard work that has taken place in our community since this summer. Over the course of the Fall semester, we:
- Researched and developed new practices to improve our hiring processes in order to more effectively reach a diverse pool of candidates for all employment searches at Le Moyne.
- Studied various diversity, equity and inclusion development programs, and made a commitment to providing meaningful education on these issues to everyone at Le Moyne, beginning with senior leadership.
- Developed a survey to be administered in January to all faculty to assess the strengths and weaknesses of our curriculum in addressing diversity.
- Provided a series of webinars on anti-racism, attended by over 100 members of the Le Moyne community.
- Led professional development workshops for the Athletics Department, Employee Forum and the Student Success Center.
- Evaluated and revised the bias-response team processes, added new ways to report bias-related incidents, and disseminated that information across campus.
- Launched the COR 100 Racial Justice Module, gathered data on its effectiveness, and began revising the module for Fall 2021.
- Earmarked substantial funding from the Core Curriculum Program, the Research and Development Committee, and the O’Connell Professorship to support faculty to develop course content about racial justice.
- Created a virtual BIPOC community to engage current BIPOC students through a series of virtual and in-person events.
- Developed a mentoring program to strengthen our relationships with alumni of color and provide networking for our students of color.
- Drafted a Diversity Mission Statement to guide the work of all of our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across all departments.
- Hired Nisha Banerjee as senior director of Human Resources, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; hired Porche Whitby, an African-American scholar, for a tenure-track position in criminology; appointed alumnus of color Demetrius McNeil ‘18 to serve as the inaugural administrative fellow; hired Hasan Stephens, founder and executive director of the Good Life Youth Foundation and a professor of Africana Studies at the State University of New York, as the Keenan Center’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence; and hired Kwasi Yeboah ’16 as a member of the College’s Enrollment Management team.
- Increased diversity among members of the Board of Trustees, Board of Regents and Alumni Council.
I am deeply grateful for the hard work undertaken by numerous people throughout Le Moyne’s constituencies as we examine and improve our operating procedures to fully align them with our mission as a “diverse learning community.” To learn more about our ongoing efforts to become an anti-racist institution, visit the RJC webpage or contact the co-chairs of the committee, Tabor Fisher and Kuukua Yomekpe, at RacialJustice@LeMoyne.edu.
As we move through winter, I pray that the vaccine, combined with responsible individual and community behavior, will lead to improvements in the health of the nation and the world. I also reaffirm our determination to become an anti-racist institution characterized by systemic equity. I hope that you will join me in acknowledging the work that has been done, taking stock of what still needs to be accomplished, and redoubling our efforts to erase the color line so that our country and our College can achieve the “future promise” Du Bois points us toward.
I wish you and yours blessings during this holiday season, in whatever ways you celebrate, and abundant grace in the new year. May the quiet that comes with the season renew your spirits.
With respect and gratitude,
Linda LeMura, PhD.