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Building a more inclusive college

A note from the Dean


 

College of Integrated Science and Engineering Students,

Like many of you, I’ve found myself challenged for words over the last two weeks to try to make sense of the anger and frustration I feel in reaction to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. Time and time again, we’ve seen our fellow citizens, particularly Blacks, victimized and abused for the color of their skin and we seem to be trapped in an endless loop of inequality. This. has. to. stop. As a white male, I only get an occasional glimpse at the unending toll our racism and inequality takes on people of color across our society, including the Black students, staff, and faculty at JMU. While I’m heartened with the depth and breadth of protests across the country, it’s not enough. We need to break out of this cycle and find ways to level the opportunity gap. I’m also painfully aware that talk is cheap and change needs to start at home.

To that end, when you return to campus this Fall, I want to start a series of conversations with you, not to share what we’re doing, but to hear what you need to thrive at JMU.  We need spaces where every one of you feels included and is able to do your best work. We need an environment of equality and inclusion, and we need it now. Some of these conversations will be hard, especially for me and others in the majority, but if we can’t say the problems out loud, we don’t have much chance to solve them. If you’d like to help me work on this effort, please e-mail me at kolvoora@jmu.edu.

I’m also working with faculty and staff on parallel initiatives. I know that compared to the magnitude of the challenges, these are small actions. My hope is that they’ll lead to bigger actions and more concrete progress. The burden of moving forward on inclusion and equity must be shared by all of us. Racial and gender inequality in America didn’t arise overnight and it won’t collapse quickly. Let’s work together to break out of this cycle. Please join me in striving to make CISE and JMU the welcoming and equitable place that needs to be.

Sincerely,

Bob Kolvoord, Dean
College of Integrated Science and Engineering

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Published: Friday, June 12, 2020

Last Updated: Friday, June 12, 2020

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