Message to the Arts & Sciences community

Dear A&S Colleagues,

I share the grief, dismay and anger that so many of you feel at the inhumane treatment and horrific death of George Floyd.  The recent events in Minneapolis and Georgia recall the pain of Ferguson and stretch back to the founding of our nation, reminding us of the inequality, discrimination and repression of people of color that have plagued our society for so long.  It is deeply discouraging that after so many traumatic events, we have seemingly made little to no progress.  The killing of George Floyd comes on top of the racial disparities that we are seeing in the ongoing COVID pandemic, both in health outcomes and economic consequences. 

As hard as it is, we can’t give in to hopelessness. This is a moment to ask ourselves what more we can and should be doing. The responsibility for addressing racism does not rest with a single institution but is a responsibility that we all share, especially our educational institutions. I believe that Washington University and A&S have an essential role to play in providing a liberal arts education to our students, both in the classroom where diverse views and experiences meet, helping to foster informed citizens, and in supporting research on inequality and racism, providing an understanding of the underlying causes and often subtle consequences of discrimination.  But courses and research will not themselves prevent the next senseless killing of a Black man.  As individuals we cannot be silent and we must speak the truth.

I would like to highlight several resources and programs that may be helpful in these efforts:

“COVID-19 and Race” is a series designed to bring greater awareness and attention to the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on communities of color, organized by the Brown School in cooperation with the Clark-Fox Policy Institute.  The first two parts are available for viewing online. “Part 3: COVID-19 and Race: Political Action and Power in the Face of Adversity,” will take place on June 11 at 10 a.m. CT and registration is open.  I also want to recommend the Zoom learning programs and resources available through the Academy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Finally, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please reach out. Human Resources offers employee wellness and mental health resources.

Thank you for the thought and care I see you bring to your work, your colleagues and our students every day. It has been an honor to serve as your Dean and although I will be stepping down soon, I am grateful to remain a part of this inspiring community.

Best regards,
Barbara Schaal

Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor