Stephens College Board of Trustees issued the following message to all students, faculty, staff and alumnae on July 2, 2020.

The Stephens College Board of Trustees condemns the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain and so many unnamed Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Further, the Trustees condemn brutality and oppression of all marginalized groups, and particularly among the Black community. We grieve with millions of Americans over these deaths while fully agreeing that sympathy and silence are not adequate responses. The Trustees urgently feel the responsibility to take necessary steps to identify and attack the types of systemic failings that have led to this moment.

The Board of Trustees is formulating immediate action plans with complete recognition our focus can’t diminish with a few changes and high hopes. “As Frederick Douglass said, without struggle, there is no progress. Let’s struggle together for our collective soul,” so wrote Brian S. Lowery in a recent Washington Post column.*

Within the framework of the Board’s policy and oversight responsibilities, the Board will do the hard and often uncomfortable work of educating itself and bringing needed changes to our institution. We recognize that going forward we need to act vigorously and intentionally.

To this end, and in full support of the actions that President Dianne Lynch and her team have taken and are planning to further address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion at Stephens College — the immediate and initial action steps already identified by the Board’s Executive Committee include:

  1. The Board will engage in anti-racist** education for all of its members beginning this summer. This education will be a part of each of our meetings this academic year (2020-2021) as well as a permanent part of orientation for all members. Such training will be included in at least one meeting a year going forward.
  2. The Board will continually strive to be a more diverse and inclusive body by utilizing intentional traditional and non-traditional methods to attract and identify new board members during the recruitment process.
  3. The Board will require a Diversity Report during each Board meeting, to include necessary information that will help us understand whether we have made progress and which practices are succeeding so we can continue to set bigger goals and find better results.
  4. The Board will approve funding for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as part of the College’s annual budget and will receive an annual report of the uses of the funding to make real improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion for students, faculty, staff and alumnae of Stephens College. Donations to be used for this initiative will be a priority for the Board.
  5. The Board will increase scholarships for students of color by increasing the number of endowed scholarships that give priority to students of color.
  6. The Board will work with the President and Advancement to prioritize fundraising for resources to be used to support an increase in the number of faculty members of color as recruitment opportunities present.
  7. The Board’s Student Affairs Committee will organize more opportunities for Board members to meet with students while on campus, creating the time to understand better the experience of Stephens students.

Trustees welcome comments, suggestions and assistance from all our stakeholders to increase diversity, equity and inclusion. As a women’s college, operating from a value of collective leadership, we believe that only by facing adversity together can we take the necessary steps to end the systemic oppression that has existed in our country and institutions forever. The process is worth the effort because, as Lowery wrote, we are, indeed, fighting for our collective soul.

 


* Brian S. Lowery is a professor and the senior associate dean at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. His column recently appeared in the Washington Post and is titled, “To my white friends, the time for talk has passed. Now is the time for work.”

** Anti-racist — opposes racism and promotes racial tolerance.

 

The Board of Trustees welcomes your feedback.

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