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President's message on the Task Force on Race and Race Relations

President Taylor Reveley sent the following message to the campus community on April 19, 2016 - Ed.

Dear William & Mary Community,

Our Task Force on Race and Race Relations has completed its report, which is now posted on the Task Force website along with a list of frequently asked questions and a related story in the William & Mary News.

As you recall, the Task Force was led by our Chief Diversity Officer Chon Glover and composed of students, faculty, staff, alumni and a member of the Board of Visitors.  This group met regularly over the past year to gather information, listen to the campus community, and make recommendations.  The Provost and I met with the Task Force at its final meeting earlier this month to thank its members for their hard work and discuss their recommendations.

Much thought went into the Task Force’s report. We must give equally careful attention to consideration of its 51 recommendations. While that process is underway, here are steps we plan to take immediately. 

  • William & Mary will launch a $1-million initiative to recruit new faculty members who will increase our diversity. The budget we present to the Board of Visitors this week will include $500,000 toward this goal and represents the single largest new programmatic investment we will make this coming year. We will recommend an additional $500,000 for academic year 2017-18 for an annual recurring commitment of $1 million. This is significant, but only a start. We will do more. The budget will also include $100,000 in annual support for additional staffing for the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.
  • We will propose that the Board of Visitors name two prominent buildings on campus in memory of African Americans important to W&M’s past. Thus, we will recommend that one of our Jamestown Residence Halls become Lemon Hall, named after an enslaved man owned by the College in the late 18th century.  He is the person for whom our Lemon Project is named; this is a university initiative launched by the Board of Visitors in 2009 to explore William & Mary's part in slavery and segregation, as well as our current efforts to overcome that legacy. We will propose that the second Jamestown Residence Hall become Hardy Hall, named after the late Carroll Hardy, the longtime Student Affairs administrator who was affectionately known on campus as “Dean Hardy.” For over 15 years Dean Hardy worked tirelessly to increase the diversity of our student body through six summer enrichment programs for students in grades 8 to 12, by establishing the National Black Student Leadership Development Conference for college students, through the creation and nurture of 15 multicultural student organizations, and by founding the Hulon Willis Association, a W&M organization devoted to African-American alumni. By any measure, Carroll Hardy was a trailblazer at William & Mary.  In 2012 she was elected an honorary alumna of the College.
  • We will strengthen practices for considering diversity in hiring, training and the assessment of campus climate.
  • We will have mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff.  Student Affairs will expand diversity training for students and student groups.
  • An external consultant will be engaged to help us better understand the concerns of African American employees, particularly non-exempt employees in Facilities Management. The consultant will also help us develop a plan to improve workplace conditions, review wages and examine management practices.  
  • I will appoint a committee charged with reviewing the Task Force’s recommendations and developing a plan for further implementation.

As the Provost and I discussed with the Task Force members, William & Mary is committed to becoming a more diverse and inclusive university for every member of our community.  W&M, because of its past, has a special obligation to do this for African-American faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

It is also worth noting that the work of our Lemon Project, begun seven years ago, has served as a model for other institutions and been unusually thorough in its research, teaching, symposia and community outreach.

Also of note, at the beginning of this school year, we decided to remove Confederate imagery from the College Mace and to move the then-existing Civil War plaque from the Wren Building to Special Collections so that we could replace it with a new plaque that lists all the W&M alumni, students, faculty and staff who fought in the Civil War whom we can now identify, including Union soldiers as well as Confederate.  

Last fall when racial issues took center stage at universities across the nation, we had already formed our Task Force on Race and Race Relations. Over the course of the past year, the Task Force held six community forums with students (both undergraduates and graduates) faculty and staff. These forums helped open lines of communication more fully than ever before.

All of us – students, faculty, staff and alumni – have a role in shaping what William & Mary becomes.  It’s vital that we continue to take steps crucial to the health and success of our community.

 Taylor Reveley