PUBLISHED OCTOBER 15, 2020 IN WORKING@DUKE, CAMPUS
PRESIDENT PRICE MESSAGE ON ANTI-RACISM INITIATIVES
Part of the Anti-Racism Scholarship, Learning and Activism at Duke Series
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BY DUKE TODAY STAFF
Editor's Note:
The following message was sent by President Vincent Price to members of the Duke community Thursday
To the Duke Community,
In the months since my Juneteenth message regarding the university’s commitments to anti-racism, we have witnessed continued, vivid reminders of ongoing daily violence against our Black neighbors and of justice delayed or undone. At the same time, the pandemic has persisted as a vital threat around the globe and across our nation, most of all to those communities already suffering the cumulative effects of enduring economic and health disparities.
While our nation has been engaged with these dual pandemics—ongoing, systemic racism and COVID-19—our university community has faced challenging questions of our own. For instance, how can we appreciate Duke’s history of innovation, service, and leadership while acknowledging the entwinement of that history with slavery, segregation, and white supremacy? How can we celebrate the progress we’ve made toward inclusion over the past century while recognizing that the work remains far from complete and did not come soon enough for countless applicants, students, faculty, and staff who were discriminated against in ways both overt and insidious? How can we find a way forward—together, as a community—within a wider social and political context that stokes division and discord? And perhaps most pressingly, how can we undertake meaningful action now and also ensure that this is only a starting point for a sustained effort to fully embrace equity?
These are challenging questions because they offer no easy answers. But I believe that at Duke we have both the opportunity and responsibility to produce real and lasting change in our community and beyond.
As we look ahead toward a more hopeful future, a key goal has been to move decisively and without delay to mobilize every part of our enterprise to address systemic racism and advance racial equity, both by redoubling existing efforts and by initiating significant new programs.  A second key goal has been to ensure that anti-racism and equity remain long-term priorities for Duke, woven carefully into every aspect of our institutional strategy and culture. This summer, I tasked Provost Sally Kornbluth, Chancellor for Health Affairs Eugene Washington, and Executive Vice President Tallman Trask with designing specific implementation plans for Duke’s students and faculty, health care providers, and staff.
These plans, which I have reviewed and discussed with our senior leadership and which have the full support of the Board of Trustees, can now be found at anti-racism.duke.edu​, which also includes links to the various plans promulgated by our schools and other units.  As I noted in my June message, righting the wrongs of history will take time; and so our efforts will need to be focused and sustained, with clear goals and transparency as we work toward them.  Going forward with this in mind, anti-racism.duke.edu will be a central source of information about our anti-racism work, including data regularly collected and publicized to monitor our progress, details of new and ongoing programs, research highlights, and educational and training materials for wider use across the Duke community.
Let me highlight our initiatives already underway or soon to be launched.
RECOGNIZING THAT FACULTY WHO ARE BLACK, INDIGENOUS, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR MUST HAVE EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR HIRING AND ADVANCEMENT, WE HAVE INITIATED PROGRAMS TO FURTHER THE EXCELLENCE OF OUR FACULTY.
RECOGNIZING THAT THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE MUST BE EQUITABLE, WE ARE STRENGTHENING OUR STUDENT COMMUNITY.
RECOGNIZING THAT ALL EMPLOYEES MUST HAVE ACCESS TO EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH AND PAY EQUITY, WE ARE INITIATING PROGRAMS SUPPORTING OUR STAFF. 
RECOGNIZING THAT THE WORK OF ANTI-RACISM BEGINS WITH EDUCATION, WE ARE ADVANCING TRAINING AND EDUCATION FOR ALL. 
RECOGNIZING THAT SOCIOECONOMIC AND RACIAL DISPARITIES OFTEN RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT DISPARITIES IN HEALTHCARE, WE ARE STRIVING TO PROMOTE HEALTH EQUITY. 
RECOGNIZING THAT DIVERSITY AT THE SENIOR LEADERSHIP LEVEL IS CRITICAL, WE ARE INVESTING IN LEADERSHIP.
RECOGNIZING OUR INSTITUTIONAL MANDATE TO GENERATE KNOWLEDGE IN SERVICE OF IMPROVING SOCIETY, WE ARE SEEKING NEW MODES OF FOSTERING RESEARCH.
RECOGNIZING THAT MANY OF OUR GRADUATES HAVE AND WILL CONTINUE TO ENCOUNTER RACISM, WE ARE ENGAGING OUR ALUMNI. 
RECOGNIZING OUR UNIVERSITY’S HISTORIC CONNECTIONS TO SYSTEMS OF RACISM AND INEQUITY, WE ARE FOCUSED ON REVISITING DUKE’S INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY.
RECOGNIZING THE COMPLEX SOCIOECONOMIC CHALLENGES FACING OUR CITY AND REGION, WE ARE ENGAGING WITH AND SUPPORTING OUR DURHAM AND REGIONAL COMMUNITIES. 
These are only first steps as we chart our anti-racist course at Duke. Our work will take time, and it is far more important to do this right than to do it quickly.
Institutional transformation begins at the personal level. We are all approaching this issue with different perspectives and at different points in our lives—from first-year students to campus staff to health care providers to faculty and to alumni around the world—and we all have work to do to build a better Duke. In that spirit, I call on the entire Duke community to come together with the humanity to recognize that we are all people with diverse stories, perspectives, talents and aspirations; with the humility to recognize that we know a lot less than we’d like to admit and we must learn from one another to investigate the hard truths; with the honesty to recognize that unequal life chances shape who we are and often limit who we can become; and perhaps most importantly, with the collective hope in our capacity for change.
We won’t always get this right—and we will make mistakes along the way. But we are committed today and throughout the future of Duke to addressing systemic racism on our campus and setting an example for our nation and the world.
Thank you, all of you, for your efforts to that end.
 
Sincerely,
Vince
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