Message from the Chancellor and Provost:

Update on our diversity and inclusion efforts and an invitation

Working toward a more diverse and inclusive Washington University has brought focus and energy to our campus community.

The robust participation in February’s “Race and Ethnicity: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue” is an example of concerted and collaborative effort toward building the kind of community we aspire to be. That experience, in particular, underscored the need for deliberate action to ensure that our community is one in which all are welcome – regardless of background, identity, and/or perspective – and our environment is one in which all can succeed.

To help develop an overarching, university-wide approach, we charged a steering committee, made up of students, faculty and staff from around the university, with creating a two-year action plan on diversity and inclusion – the goal of which was to build on efforts underway and accelerate meaningful and demonstrable progress.

The Steering Committee for Diversity & Inclusion, chaired by Nancy Staudt, JD, PhD, dean of the School of Law, recently wrapped up its work, presenting a report and a set of recommendations that commit the university to strengthening diversity and inclusiveness. We are grateful for the tremendous contribution of all of the members of the committee and the hundreds more who provided input into the committee process. The committee’s report is a very important piece of work. We encourage you to read the report, which can be accessed online here (PDF).

Download the 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Report

Formation of the Commission on Diversity & Inclusion

One of the important recommendations is to create a Commission on Diversity & Inclusion, which would focus on defining and designing the specifics associated with implementation of other recommendations. We strongly support the creation of the commission and are pleased to share that we have named a team to lead the commission:

  • Adrienne Davis, JD, vice provost and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, will serve as chair; vice chairs will be
  • Linling Gao-Miles, PhD, lecturer in international studies;
  • Julia Macias Garcia, associate director of Student Involvement and Leadership and director of the Rodriguez Scholars Program; and
  • Will Ross, MD, associate dean for diversity and professor of medicine at the School of Medicine.

We will be working with this leadership team to name the members of the commission.

Another key area of focus will be the issue of accountability. The committee’s action plan includes several recommendations related to measuring and reporting progress. We will benefit tremendously from the leadership and the expertise of the commission in developing measures by which we will gauge progress in strengthening diversity and inclusiveness.

Join Us for a Conversation

The committee’s recommendations also remind us that everyone on campus has a role to play in this effort — particularly in continuing the conversation by talking and relating to each other more. Opportunities for sustained communications about issues of diversity and inclusion will be key to continuing to make progress.

In that spirit, we would like to invite you to a forum on the Steering Committee for Diversity & Inclusion report at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, at the Clark-Fox Forum in Hillman Hall. University leadership, steering committee members and the new commission chair and vice chairs will be on hand to discuss the report and its recommendations and next steps. All members of the community are welcome.

We look forward to continue working with you to make Washington University a more diverse and inclusive university.


Mark S. Wrighton signature
Mark S. Wrighton

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Holden Thorp