Friends and colleagues, we are doing our best to keep the community informed of the situation. As we navigate the days, weeks, and months ahead, please know that my thoughts will continue to be with those impacted.
I for one am proud of the immense progress we are making to invest in industries that align so closely with our mission, with a strong tendency to shy away from those that might serve to detract from it. And moving forward, we will continue to make even greater strides to invest in businesses with positive ESG practices. Because of the nature of our partnership with WUIMC, their long-term horizon approach to investment, as well as their engagement model, we’re confident we will continue on this path.
That’s what days like today and tomorrow are all about, as we use this opportunity to listen, learn, and reflect on our past as we use our collective voices to make way for the future. This is not only paramount for us as a community that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also as we double down on our role, impact, and connection “In St. Louis and For St. Louis.”
In summary, WUIMC is a separate entity accountable to its own board, but working in tandem with the university. Therefore, it has its own oversight and a lot of autonomy, but also a lot of rigidity in terms of the way it functions and allocates assets. Because its main purpose is to support the university’s mission in perpetuity, WUIMC’s investment decisions tend to align closely with our university’s most deeply held values.
During this time, I urge each member of our community to see one another’s humanity and to extend compassion and empathy to those most impacted. Our institutional strength lies in our diversity and the essential qualities of affirmation, equity, and inclusion — and it is especially important during times like these that we embody and model these values.
Through this first blog post in a three-part series, I hope this gives you a bit clearer picture into what an endowment is and how we use it at Washington University. In two more future installments, I plan to outline the history of the endowment, where it comes from, how the payout is spent, how the endowment is managed, and how our investments align positively with the university’s mission — including a deeper dive into our socially responsible investment principles. Stay tuned!
This is the kind of place I aspire for us to be — not because it’s good for appearances or it’s good for politics. But simply because it’s the right thing to do. Once again, as Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
As we begin the spring semester and settle back into our regular routines, I want to take the opportunity to share with you some important updates about our ongoing commitment to improving safety and security around our campuses.
Undoubtedly, your time here was worth far more than any Google search could ever provide — a tangible response to the popular search “Why is education important?” While studying at Washington University, you gained knowledge, understanding, tools, experiences, and relationships that have immense promise to change the world. And now that this particular chapter is ending, it is our greatest hope that you leave this place feeling ready and prepared to continue your passionate and noble search for knowledge and truth.
I wish you the very best as you wrap up the weeks ahead. While this semester showed no signs of stopping, it will soon be time for us to take a brief respite so we can recharge and return with even greater energy and force. I hope you enjoy a restful holiday, and may you come back ready to help us move even further along our path.
This week especially, I want to touch on that last part: Gratitude. I believe gratitude is something we don’t give out enough in our current social context. To me, it’s an important starting point as we think about shifting our own personal experiences and the experiences of our communities and society writ-large. That said, I can think of several things for which I’m particularly grateful this year. One of the biggest ones being you — our Washington University community.
Missouri is facing a health-care crisis. Far too many residents in our state cannot get needed medical care because they lack health insurance. This is why Washington University is backing the Healthcare for Missouri initiative – an effort to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover more Missourians.
As almost a month has passed since inauguration, I believe now is the time to share the next steps for our path forward together. Those next steps involve a bold and transformative strategic planning process that will take place over the course of the next two calendar years.
Ultimately, what I really want to say is that you’ve all been incredibly integral in my success, the success of this day, and the success of the university in your own special way, and words cannot even begin to express my and my family’s gratitude. Thank you again, and now it’s time to increase our #WashUMomentum and “to build even more bridges!”
Today, we are issuing a public appeal to our state legislators to make sensible changes to Missouri state law that will grant to local governments the ability to establish stricter gun safety requirements within their municipal and county boundaries.
I view my role as your 15th Chancellor to increase our momentum and help build the bridges to our shared future — the future of this institution, the future of St. Louis, the future of this country, and the future of the world.
Over the coming months and years, I plan to continue championing these efforts. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take financial resources. It’s going to take careful attention to everything we do inside and outside of the classroom. And it’s going to take a commitment from all of us. But over time, I hope this institution will become a place that has completely removed the financial barriers that too often prevent individuals from considering WashU — a place where anyone can make their dreams of a WashU education a reality.
Here at Washington University, we are immensely proud that we have continued to carry the Olympic torch throughout our history to the present moment. The renaming of Francis Olympic Field truly solidifies our commitment to these values, and I’m confident we’ll continue to embody the Olympic movement and spirit with us well into the future.
Earlier this week, I expressed my determination to address safety concerns that have intensified following a recent spike in criminal activity in neighborhoods near the Danforth Campus. I now am reaching out to share with you specific steps we are taking in the short-, mid-, and longer-term.
I wanted to reach out to let you know that I am concerned and determined to take action. Nothing is more important to me than the safety and well-being of our university community.
As your 15th Chancellor, I am deeply committed to leading with transparency, approachability, accountability, and data-driven decision making. To that end, I am sharing the entire report, in its full, unadulterated form. I feel this is important for several reasons. First, to walk-the-talk and be fully transparent. Second, to allow all of us to learn through this process. And, finally, to respect the input so many of you provided and empower continued dialogue. It is very important to me that each of you feels – and knows – that you have a seat at the table.
The student experience is a paramount facet of that mission as well as an area that continues to evolve with the changing landscape of higher education. To that end, and effective immediately, Dr. Lori White, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, will report directly to me moving forward.
You now join a long line of individuals who have come before you and who have been deeply committed to the same values and principles. As both Chancellor of Washington University and as an alumnus, I am both proud and honored that you represent our robust legacy and the extraordinary history of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, educators, inventors, innovators, advocates, and leaders. With this comes great responsibility as you carry on the nearly 170-year legacy of distinction.
Indeed, distinction is clearly a term that embodies our past and permeates our present. And now, as we embark on yet another academic year—one filled with opportunity and potential—I challenge all of us to thread the needle even further as we embed distinction into the fabric of our future.
As WashU’s Chancellor, this will be one of my biggest priorities — to continue to fulfill our mission to improve lives through our excellent teaching, research, service, and patient care. This especially means being good neighbors as we exemplify the “in St. Louis” part of our name and our identity.
On July 1, 2021, we will be increasing the minimum hourly wage to $15/hour for regular employees and basic service contractors at Washington University in St. Louis. We will transition to this level with increases in 2019 and 2020.
In light of these and other tensions as well as political rhetoric and pressure from various angles, it’s both appropriate and critically important to remember who we are and aspire to be as a Washington University community — a place where all people feel, represented, welcome, and included. Our international students, faculty, and staff are no exception. Let me be clear: students, faculty, and staff from around the globe are welcome at Washington University with open arms. And during times like these, it’s especially imperative we remind them that they are valued and celebrated as members of our thriving community.
Finding the ideal person to assume the role of provost will require thoughtful consideration, a smart and thorough process, and input from a broad range of community members. We are now ready to begin this task, and I want to share with you my plans for moving forward.
The university continues to share serious concerns about the recently enacted Missouri law related to abortion services. Dean Perlmutter of our medical school further explains those concerns in a commentary he coauthored with Richard Liekweg, CEO and president of BCJ HealthCare, that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
As I have now officially begun my role as Washington University’s 15th Chancellor, I’d really like the chance to tell you exactly the kind of leader I aspire to be.
As soon-to-be Chancellor, I want to emphasize how important I believe it is that staff get the recognition you deserve for the enormous time and diligent energy you put into keeping this place running and moving forward. All of you are incredibly integral to the success of the university, and I’m really grateful for your contributions.
Members of the Class of 2019, I have to be honest. I feel a little bit like Paul McCartney right now as I channel one of the Beatles’ most famous lines, “You say Goodbye, and I say Hello.” For some of you, that joke might have gotten lost in the generational gap. But it’s true. You’re leaving this place, and I’m just beginning my role as your 15th Chancellor. Because I wasn’t here for most of your time on campus, I haven’t earned the privilege to impart a lot of wisdom. To that end, all I really want to say is: “Congratulations!”
I have been asked about the status of ongoing discussions regarding the university’s minimum wage. I wanted to share this broadly so that all members of the university community are aware.
Change requires acts of bravery — from all sides. And friendship and dialogue are perhaps the most powerful tools we can use to enact the change we wish to see.
At WashU, we aim to make hope more visible. At WashU, we aim to hear the voice of struggle and resilience in order to achieve progress. At WashU, we aim to enhance our institutional efforts to make Washington University a place where all people feel represented, safe, valued, and included members of our community. And at WashU, we aim to act responsibly as we care for our students, faculty, staff, and patients here in St. Louis and throughout the world.
All of us, regardless of background or experience, benefit from being part of a diverse and inclusive community. It’s not just about succeeding or benefitting, though. Beyond that, it’s also about thriving and flourishing. As human beings, when we work on our own selves and strive to communicate and collaborate across our differences, we begin to create a university, local community, nation, and world that truly flourishes.
I am delighted and honored to return to campus to serve as your 15th Chancellor. Washington University in St. Louis is a vibrant institution filled with tradition; rich with diversity; committed to innovation, progress, and inclusion; and marked by leaders who have paved a course for a thriving future.
It’s so great to be back home. The past four years for me and my family in Ann Arbor have been a fantastic experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve another great institution. But, there is no place like here — and no place like home.