President Pinto's Message: The Time To Act is Now
Dear UC Community,
I want to follow up on my recent statement on the senseless death of George Floyd, the insidious effects of structural racism and the deep-seated hurt, anger and anguish that continue to flow throughout our campus and ourbroader community.
Many of you have reached out with remarkably thoughtful messages on how we, individually and collectively, must do better. I personally want to thank each of you for teaching me what this moment means to you and to our community. I also want to thank those of you who have gone above and beyond to create welcoming spaces for listening, dialogue and support. This pandemic has been no match for your passion to serve others.
Before sharing some ideas on how our University will make a bigger difference moving forward, I want to say a few words about the context for our call to action. Our nation’s original sin of slavery still haunts us. Today’s hate, racism, brutality and health disparities are cut from the same cloth. But we must remember these inhumane realities exist only because we allow them to. We can no longer social distance ourselves from that simple truth. We have the ability—and more importantly the responsibility—to eliminate them in the here and now. Let’s not fail our future by allowing the passage of time to dampen our resolve. Not this time.
To members of our Black community, please know we hear you. We stand in solidarity with you to end this horrific cycle. We recognize our imperfections as an institution, and we remain committed to creating an environment in which all members are treated with dignity, respect and care.
As an institution of higher learning, we must answer the call for a higher contribution to society during these difficult and defining times in our nation’s history. To this end, we will focus our initial actions in three areas.
We are blessed to have numerous faculty members at UC who are world-class leaders in the study of race, racism, policing and the criminal justice system. We will mobilize a faculty working group to discern the best ways for us to apply our academic expertise and experience to further advance the broader dialogue on improving community policing and the criminal justice system. I want to thank Professor Sandra Browning for graciously agreeing to lead this faculty team.
We have identified our partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools as a top priority in our strategic direction—with the aim of supporting the readiness, access and success of our hometown students who will become the future leaders of this city, region and nation. Despite the economic challenges associated with the pandemic, we will continue to invest in this mission-critical partnership. More pointedly, we will sharpen our focus on working with CPS leadership as well as our own campus experts to eliminate structural racism throughout the educational life cycle.
Dr. Bleuzette Marshall, our Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact, and I will partner with stakeholders across campus to integrate equity and inclusion success metrics into our overall performance management system. Each of us must own these core values in our daily work on campus like never before.
To be clear: this is by no means a comprehensive list. Nor is it the responsibility of only a few individuals. All of us must work together, across the institution and into our broader community, to hold ourselves and each other accountable for the lasting change we want to see.
When we launched Next Lives Here in 2018, we did so with the vision of leading higher education into a new era—one built on the interdisciplinary pillars of innovation, inclusion and impact. If 2020 has proven anything to the world, it is the distinct reality that this new era of disruptive change is upon us. Now is the time for us to lead differently. And we can only do that if we stand tall. Today. Tomorrow. Together.
Neville G. Pinto