Month: June 2020

Support the Black community, a message from the Dean

Colleagues,

Two weeks ago George Floyd, a 46-year-old man, suffocated when an officer of the Minneapolis Police department pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Following soon after the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging and of Breonna Taylor in her own home, I can barely imagine the grief, anger, and frustration that Black people feel because of the brutal treatment they too often receive at the hands of those sworn to protect them.

The anger and frustration Black people and people of color feel must surely be compounded by the anguish of knowing that the damage COVID-19 causes has disproportionately visited them, their families, and their communities. Nothing I can say will assuage that anger. Nothing I can do will correct those wrongs. But rest assured, I will do everything I can to ensure that UConn welcomes and supports every student regardless of race, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender, cultural background or religion.  

Martin Luther King wrote this from his cell in a Birmingham jail:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

We must do more than hope. We must act, and we must right the injustices that we can correct. My life and experience are different from yours, and those differences blind me to some of the injustices you see. Please help me see what you see. I invite you to share your experiences by sending me an email to graduatedean@uconn.edu and by attending one of the Dean Dialogues we will announce later this week. I cannot promise to correct the injustices you describe, because many may lie beyond the scope of my authority. But I can promise to change what is within my power to change and to listen intently, sharing what I learn from you with those who can make the changes I can't. 

Echoing the statement of President Tom Katsouleas and Provost Carl Lejuez and the words of new Vice-President and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Frank Tuitt, institutions like UConn should be involved in the work of imagining policies, conversations, and spaces that promote equity. This work does not only fall to marginalized people and communities; it is hard work we must all undertake. 

The Graduate School has compiled a list of resources that we hope you will find useful. In addition to these resources, the staff of The Graduate School is here to listen to you and to support you. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Finally, please take care of yourself and those around you during these extraordinarily difficult times. Your strength and your compassion will in some not too distant tomorrow make the stars of love and brotherhood shine over our university.

Kent Holsinger 
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Biology
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School