Dear students, faculty, and staff:
Robert Morris University’s strategic plan, RMU 100, defines our commitment to fostering inclusivity, belonging, and a culture of involvement on our campus and within our community. Though we have taken important steps — including the ongoing work of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion — as an institution we recognize that we must do more to advance racial equity for Black students, faculty, and staff, and all those impacted by anti-Black racism. The President’s Anti-Racism Task Force (The Task Force) is the next step in our commitment to strengthening our diverse community and creating a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable campus which will better prepare our students for future careers and success.
The Task Force will be co-chaired by Dr. Anthony Robins, associate professor of biology, chief diversity and inclusion officer, and coordinator, STEM Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives; and Amanda Neatrour, director, Women's Leadership and Mentorship Program.
Racism is a system of privilege, inequality, and oppression based on perceived categorical differences, value assigned to those differences, and a system of oppression that rewards and punishes people based on the assigned differences. It counters our understanding and fundamental beliefs of inclusion. We recognize, at times, racism has manifested politically, socially, economically, culturally, interpersonally, and intra-personally in how universities and colleges traditionally carried out their objectives and engaged students and team members. Along with other institutions of higher learning, we must use our collective power to affect change by embracing our differences to make Robert Morris University better for all members of our community.
The Task Force will be grounded in an understanding of the lived experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff on our campus. The Task Force will be action oriented, because we know that it’s not enough to identify problems. We must intentionally act to address these challenges with viable solutions. The Task Force will identify actions and investments that will enhance the experience and success of students, staff, and faculty from all backgrounds at RMU and in the community.
The task force will focus its efforts in four specific areas:
- Student well-being reflected in enrollment, retention, and post-graduation success. Our students will thrive.
- Communication across our community which is sustained and effective using tools and resources to promote an anti-racist campus culture.
- Safety and belongingness by promoting and supporting a safer and accessible campus and learning experience through events and programming.
- Faculty and staff well-being as reflected in diverse hiring practices and retention and promotion of a diverse workforce.
You can expect to hear more in the coming weeks from the Task Force co-chairs. I wish to thank them for agreeing to lead this vital initiative, and to thank all of you in advance for your support.
Chris Howard, President