Date: June 11, 2020
To: NYU Faculty
From: The Members of the Office of the Provost

Dear NYU Faculty,

All of us in the Provost’s Office are heartbroken and outraged by the police killing of George Perry Floyd Jr. The pervasive violence that Black and brown communities suffer at the hands of police and of the U.S. criminal justice system is a defining symptom of the injustice, racism, and oppression that pervade many U.S. institutions.

We also recognize that we have to confront racism, discrimination, and inequity at our own institution. We’re committed to mobilizing research, public scholarship, and teaching to create meaningful and measurable change. We’re writing with some steps the Provost’s Office is taking to make our institution more equitable, inclusive, and diverse:

  • Through the NYU Center for Faculty Advancement, making a significant investment over the next academic year to partner with Steinhardt’s Metro Center, the Office of Global Inclusion, and University HR to strengthen faculty engagement on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion to build equitable and inclusive learning environments for students, and departmental cultures for faculty, administrators and staff; and to support faculty hiring and mentorship practices;
  • Also through the Center for Faculty Advancement, partnering with NYU HR and NYU’s Office of Equal Opportunity to design live and online support to assist department chairs and other leaders in effectively addressing issues of workplace discrimination, exclusion, and/or microaggressions that affect faculty and the administrators and staff with whom they work;
  • Amplifying our commitment to building a more diverse faculty. Over the past two years we’ve made measurable progress in this effort. But it’s not enough, and it’s not happening fast enough. In the near future we plan to launch some creative strategies for a more aggressive, smart, and collaborative approach to significantly increasing the number of Black, Latinx, Native American, and other underrepresented members of our faculty.
  • As part of this Fall’s new NYU Big Ideas Course Series, open to all students across the university, launching two courses specifically designed to address issues of systemic and structural racism. The course Race & Inequality will be co-led by Michael Lindsey, Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies and Executive Director of NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, and NYU Deputy Provost and Steinhardt Professor of poverty and policy research, Cybele Raver. Bringing together faculty from NYU’s professional schools, this course will focus on the causes and consequences of inequality, and how we can effect significant change through policy, advocacy and activism.

Professors Pamela Newkirk and Deborah Willis will be leading a course titled Black Lives Matter. Drawing on faculty from across the university, the course will examine the history and consequences of structural/institutional racism, and ways to unseat it. Professor Newkirk is an award-winning journalist and scholar whose work addresses the historical exclusion of multidimensional portraits of African descendants in scholarship and popular culture; Professor Willis, a MacArthur award recipient, is a photographer, historian, and author, and is the founding director of NYU’s Center for Black Visual Culture.

Each of the courses in this series is designed to reach and engage hundreds of students – representing every School, global campus and site – in the big ideas and big questions that challenge our world today.

  • In partnership with the Deans of each of NYU’s Schools, curating a common student academic experience focused on dismantling racism in the context of criminal justice reform through its NYU Reads series. This Fall’s reading will be NYU Law Professor Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy;
  • Partnering with NYU Libraries to host a new, University-wide discussion series through which members of the NYU community can engage the most significant challenges facing our world. We’ll begin by confronting systemic and structural racism in policing and criminal justice. We look forward to hosting the series at Bobst once we’re able to convene in person, and to making series events accessible to audiences online.

These steps are a beginning. We will work with our faculty – particularly our faculty of color – to define, design, and take further ones together. As a community of scholars, creators, artists, and practitioners we have the power and the responsibility to bring lasting change to the lives of our students, to NYU, and to the broader community.

These are wrenching times. We open our hearts to those who are hurting. NYU’s leadership, including all of us in the Provost’s Office, stand with those most affected by the brutal killings and violence that consitute, to use the words of one of our faculty colleagues, "an undeniable record of unending death and terror."

Stay well,

The Members of the Office of the Provost