Message from the Dean (6/2/2020)

Message from the Dean (6/2/2020)

Dear CoE community,

This weekend I spent time reflecting on the events of the last few months, from the COVID-19 crisis to the violence against Black people, and the long history that brought us to this place. This painful place that lays bare our interconnectedness and demands our action – action to address institutional racism and structural inequities that oppress our communities of color. I mulled over my experiences growing up in rural Louisiana and how education changes lives and communities in innumerable ways. And I considered President’s Cauce call for us to do better – her call to create a “new normal” where attention to issues of equity becomes habitual.

In this time of grief and anger, it may be difficult to focus and the pressures of life may feel overwhelming. It is important to process these emotions and experiences and to give each other space to do so. To all Black students, faculty and staff, I see your pain and am committed to stand with you and support you. As engineers we are wired to solve problems and how we address systemic change is indeed a grand challenge. At a time when much feels out of our control there are tangible actions that we can take together to enact change that addresses issues of equity, racism and bias.

The College leadership team is identifying actions that we can move forward in the short and long term. We have heard from our Black students about their immediate needs and will work with the students to ensure they receive the necessary support to finish this quarter successfully. I strongly reiterate support for the message from President Cauce, Provost Richards, and Faculty Senate leadership sent to all UW instructors to urge them to be responsive to UW students’ needs by providing students with accommodations, such as additional time for assignments and flexibility with final exams. I ask all faculty to exercise grace and compassion to all students over the next few weeks. To build on our current equity work, the College will require faculty and staff to participate in implicit bias training as well as training that aims to undo institutional racism. If you have specific concerns that you feel are not being addressed or ideas on how to move forward, please reach out directly to me or our Associate Dean of Diversity & Access, Eve Riskin.

We also commit to long-term partnership with UW leadership and students to create systemic change. As educators we believe in access and equity for all. Historically, however, engineering has not been accessible to all. Over the years excellent programs have been built in the College and those programs are making a difference in the lives of our students and faculty. There is still much work to be done in this space and we will embrace a holistic approach to issues of diversity, access and inclusion in the College to benefit all.

Community matters, as the isolation of these last few months has amplified. Please continue to support each other and extend flexibility, patience, grace and kindness to each other. In addition please avail yourselves of these helpful resources:

Bias Incident Reporting Tool
Counseling Center
Let’s Talk
Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center
CareLink for employees

Let’s continue to create a more equitable, inclusive and compassionate community together. Again, I welcome your feedback and partnership.

Nancy Allbritton
Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering
Professor of Bioengineering