To the Editor:
Brown’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan emphasizes the University’s commitment to strengthening the diversity of our community by recruiting students, faculty and staff from historically underrepresented groups to campus. We are equally committed to cultivating an inclusive environment in which all individuals are able to thrive and contribute to the University’s mission. This is not only the right thing to do — it is also essential if we are to benefit fully from the exceptionally talented individuals who choose to come to Brown to advance knowledge through teaching and research and to make a difference in the world.
The recent March 6 op-ed, “The URC must do more to support graduate students of color,” demonstrates that while we’re making real progress attracting graduate students of color, we need to do more to ensure that the climate in every academic and administrative department reflects these core values, and that graduate students of color both experience and believe that this is their university. I am grateful to the graduate students who wrote the op-ed for raising their concerns, and for taking the time to meet with me to discuss them in greater detail.
Supporting the success of graduate students of color is essential, and Brown launched several pilot programs to advance this goal, including Diversity Preview Day, Graduate Student of Color Orientation and GSOC RESET. I have committed to supporting these initiatives in the coming years through provost discretionary funds, while also planning to submit the request to the University Resources Committee in the next budget cycle to secure permanent funding.
In addition, to ensure that diversity concerns are top of mind during the annual budgeting process, we will add a representative to the URC who will be appointed by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. While it is the responsibility of every URC member to consider the University’s diversity and inclusion priorities throughout the budget development process, having this expertise on the URC will ensure focused attention.
I recognize that we have substantial work to do to achieve our aspirations. It is simply not acceptable to hear reports from students, faculty or staff of the instances of bias they experience on our campus. President Paxson and I are personally committed to changing this reality and working to create a truly inclusive community. For example, in addition to funding programs such as Diversity Preview Day, GSOC Orientation and GSOC RESET, my office is partnering with the OIED to expand professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to understand more fully the experience of HUG students and scholars.
Brown is making important strides strengthening graduate student diversity; continued progress requires ensuring that the experience of our students is both encouraging and empowering. We know this, and will continue to work with the Graduate School and graduate students of color to provide the resources needed to be successful.
Richard Locke P’18