Speeches & Writings

Progress on our commitment to racial equity

Dear Washington University community,

When I wrote to you this summer, I shared a number of concrete actions that we were committed to taking to address racial inequity at Washington University and in the St. Louis region. As we approach the six-month mark, I am writing again with an update on our progress so far. Since June, we have made significant headway toward advancing these goals. The following items represent a high-level summary of our work to date.

Created the Washington University Equity and Inclusion Council (WUEIC)

  • The WUEIC aims to facilitate the implementation of recommendations made in the 2017 reports of the Washington University Commission on Diversity and Inclusion; provide a standing institutional “home” for that work; generate recommendations to further campus culture and climate; and report back to the university community on progress.
  • The WUEIC has formed four working groups which have begun their work.
  • Learn more and join the WUEIC mailing list for updates on the council’s website.
  • The Council will provide an update to the university community in mid-December.

Established a committee to examine public safety and policing on the Danforth Campus and in nearby neighborhoods

  • The committee is analyzing data from its recent Danforth Campus survey to inform recommendations, which will be delivered to university leadership early in the spring semester.

Reaffirmed our commitment to diversity in hiring and contracting

  • Drafted a five-year plan to increase purchasing from diverse companies and support the growth of underrepresented individuals and companies.
  • Assessed the demographics of the university’s workforce and will deliver a proposal to university leadership by January, which will include new strategies for recruiting and retaining faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds.

Took significant steps toward building a world-class research program on race

  • Building on years of strategic recruitment and program development in the study of race – and inequality more broadly – the university formally launched the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity (CRE2), which already has 80 affiliates and has inaugurated grants, faculty fellowships, labs and other initiatives designed to galvanize faculty research.
  • Launched a cluster hire of 12 new faculty members doing pioneering research on race and/or ethnicity. Following a competitive initial round, the first set of hires in the cluster was approved by the provost and can be found here.
  • Beyond the 12 hires in the cluster, we continue to aggressively pursue hires of faculty members doing field-defining work in race, including in African & African-American Studies.

Strengthened our investment in regional efforts to combat racial inequities

  • Created a new executive vice chancellor for civic affairs and strategic planning role with a focus on regional equitable economic development, community engagement and partnership with the university’s neighborhoods and civic and community leaders.
  • Made an initial contribution of $250,000 to the Racial Healing + Justice Fund, a community-designed fund that invests in the community based on guidance from residents who are directly affected by racial inequity.
  • Made an initial contribution of $50,000 toward a total commitment of $100,000 over two years to Invest STL, an organization that seeks to support the equitable redevelopment of St. Louis neighborhoods that have experienced decades of systemic disinvestment.

More details about our efforts are available on the 2020 Commitments to Racial Equity page on the Diversity and Inclusion website, where you can track our progress as we continue our efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. We will provide updates and information on that page about our current status and next steps as we look toward the future.

It is extremely important to note that this is only a check-in, and by no means an indicator that our work is anywhere near done. We are in this for the long haul, and are committed to the sustained effort necessary to address these critical issues on our campus and in our community.

I want to thank members of our university community who have consistently pushed us to stay focused and on track with these commitments. Especially during these challenging times, it is imperative that we not lose sight of our highest aspiration – to be a catalyst for change and a place where everyone feels welcome, included and supported. We will not rest until we have achieved this goal to our fullest potential.


Andrew D. Martin