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Our work ahead in support of the black community

Jun 09, 2020

As we head into a week normally reserved for celebration, I want to take a moment to reach out to all of you — undoubtedly weary, outraged, and deeply in pain from the events of the past weeks. I am exceedingly aware that this burden weighs more heavily on our black students, friends, and colleagues, and that the impact of violence and systemic racism is compounded by a global health crisis that puts miles of distance between us.

In conventional times, the days ahead would be filled with joy as we wrap up the spring term and prepare to rally around our graduates. Instead at this moment, black students and colleagues are grappling with loss and continued threats as friends and families also shoulder, in vastly disproportionate numbers, the devastating impact of the pandemic — from crippling job loss to limited access to enabling technologies and life-saving medical care.

Today, as we search for a way forward, I want to offer a rallying cry of a different sort.

We face a call to action. As we stand in solidarity with the black community, we also must commit to doing the hard work to upend the systems that uphold racism and seek justice for the events that led us to this moment. As Dean, I am committed to taking action to better address how we recruit, educate, and support our black students, staff, and faculty. We must also make important considerations to embrace diversity in the classroom, to undertake ground-breaking research that addresses the human condition, and to invent technologies and tools that help tackle the great challenges before us.

Dartmouth engineers work at the intersection of the human-made world and the human experience. We place humanity at the very center of our work. It is because of this that I know that our community can do this difficult but critical work.

When I began as Dean one year ago, I cited diversity and inclusion as a critical priority for Thayer. Building on prior work, our Inclusive Excellence Working Group has been developing a plan with immediate, near-term, and long-term goals with actionable items to address how we recruit, educate, and support our faculty, staff, and students. While we have tremendous work ahead, we are beginning to implement actions to, for example, increase the diversity of our faculty, raise awareness about implicit bias, and provide financial support for student-identified diversity and inclusion priorities. I acknowledge that these are starting steps in an ongoing journey.

I am committed to continuing this dialogue, to listening, and to pushing our school to seek additional ways to support our black students and colleagues. My hope is that we can work together to create an even more welcoming and inclusive place to learn, work, and thrive.

Be well, be safe, and be a source of support for one another.

Alexis Abramson, Dean


The resources below have been compiled with contributions from colleagues from Thayer, Geisel School of Medicine, and Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work:

Self-Care Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC):

Take Action:

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