Message from the Chancellor, the President, and the Chief Diversity Officer
June 06, 2020
To the Webster University Community,
We are writing again this weekend at a pivotal moment for our community and the nation, with a message of hope and change, along with a report of progress, as promised. As our letter to the community last week outlined, the killings of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans, such as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Manuel Ellis, along with those of the recent past, such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, are unacceptable and tragic losses. Such killings of unarmed members of the African American community, at the hands of police, must end. Webster University deplores violence of all types. The University condemned this racial violence in last week’s letter and those sentiments are reiterated today while unequivocally declaring, Black Lives Matter.
The Webster community believes in engagement to make progress for racial and social justice rather than a destructive path by using divisive rhetoric. Our community believes in respectful and constructive dialogue rather than sensational statements meant to grab attention but little else. The University community must work together for the University to continue being a catalyst for positive change and the builder of a hopeful future during this defining moment of our era. Our community must work together to end systemic racism, inequity, and injustice.
This past week, we have taken these measures:
- Initiated a series of meetings with student leaders aimed at fighting racism, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, and this includes a careful review of the University’s Inclusion Pledge;
- Affirmed support for the next cohort of the Witnessing Whiteness program;
- Launched a North St. Louis County Scholarship program to begin in the fall. Details will become available in the coming week.
Parental & New Student Engagement
- Held virtual meetings with parents, and incoming students to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with social justice issues;
- Supported the Webster-Rock Hill Ministry's Bell Park Summer Camp, a seven-week summer camp open to diverse children ages 5-12 in North Webster;
- Supported the YWCA’s virtual student leadership program focused on the needs of diverse young girls to prepare them for leadership; and
- Begun the planning for a special speaker series to launch this summer that will highlight important local and national leaders who will speak about racial equity issues and who will engage with leaders at Webster to provide insights about the need for further dialogue and progress. Members of the Webster community will be invited to participate in these virtual sessions and these sessions will be open across our global network to anyone who wishes to join the conversations.
In the coming weeks, the University will communicate about more ways that community groups and others beyond our students, staff, faculty, and alumni can brainstorm and partner with us on additional initiatives.
Our University community is hopeful for the fall and the future. This is an example of how Webster moves conversations to action. The expectation is that there will be more initiatives as our community draws closer to a fall semester that presents more opportunities for embracing progress on social justice issues while also adjusting to a campus climate coping with the coronavirus pandemic. The University will invest wisely, initiate measures in intentional ways, and report progress. The University will provide tangible evidence of how our community is bettering the climate for social justice and racial equity.
Webster continues to stand with its Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The University will actively work to dismantle institutional racism at every level throughout society. There should be no doubt, our communities and our nation must do better.
We embrace these challenges with open minds, open hearts, and open arms. We embrace each other so we can build a better and more hopeful future together while strengthening our community.
Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble
Julian Z. Schuster
Vincent C. Flewellen
Chief Diversity Officer