These are difficult times. A global pandemic has kept us apart since March, storms and fires have displaced thousands, and our country struggles to confront systemic racism.
To all who have been impacted by recent natural disasters—especially our alumni, students, faculty, and staff who are battling the California fires burning so close to campus—we are thinking of you and praying for your well-being. Please know we offer Switchboard and various social channels as ways for our SCU community to ask for help and offer support as well as connect with one another locally. Additionally, we encourage you to enter your name and the names of those who might need extra intentions in our Bronco Book of Prayers.
As many of you know by now, a disturbing incident occurred on campus involving one of our faculty, Professor Danielle Morgan in the English department and her family. The University made an initial statement on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 22 and a second communication with specific updates and action items is included below.
A Community Conversation including faculty, staff, students, and alumni was originally scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 25. Associate Professor and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Margaret Russell, has decided to reschedule this event to find more time, more spaces and smaller groups in order to have real conversations that do not just skim the surface of where we are today. These conversations are needed and we will provide information about the gatherings in advance so everyone will have the opportunity to actively participate.
On June 24, the Alumni Association affirmed our commitment to accountability and change. We cannot, by ourselves, solve all the issues of inequity that call for solutions, whether in our communities or on our own campus. But to truly serve our Santa Clara Family, we are looking critically at the work we do. We are asking difficult questions. And we are creating firm, actionable responses to better serve all alumni, and specifically our Black community.
We reaffirm these commitments as well as the University's efforts to end racism at our institution. Participating in these endeavors is a top priority for the Association and over the coming days, weeks, and months we will be calling upon our entire alumni community to contribute to this important work.
These are difficult times. But we will not shy away from the challenges. Instead, we will draw on our Jesuit values, harness our Santa Clara University education, and work together to make the world a better place.
Kathy Kale '86
Assistant Vice President, Alumni Relations
Dear Santa Clara University Community,
Since I sent my email Saturday evening, I have heard from many in our campus and extended communities. I have heard from current students and alumni of painful experiences of bias and exclusion in different forms on our campus. Many of you also expressed a feeling of disappointment, outrage, and sadness that our community is not free from the racism that pervades our society. This moves me deeply, and I offer my unflagging determination to lead Santa Clara to be a transformatively better community, dedicated to the struggle against racism. Only then can we realize the beloved community to which we all aspire.
As promised, I write now with the particular purpose to describe additional follow-up actions since Saturday:
- We are retaining a highly experienced independent investigator, Keith Rohman, to conduct a fair, impartial and thorough investigation to obtain all material facts necessary for the University to make an informed decision on this matter.
- Campus Safety officers are staff members of Santa Clara University. Pending the outcome of the investigation, the Campus Safety officers involved have agreed to take an administrative leave.
- Longer term, we are also retaining an experienced, independent police auditor to evaluate past and present practices, policies, and records of Campus Safety. The auditor's recommendations will guide our decisions and actions. I have asked Molly McDonald, Chief of Staff, to coordinate this process, which will solicit input from community members. Molly will send more information soon.
These recent conversations and actions all take place in the context of the national conversation about racial injustice and Santa Clara's ongoing commitment to concrete actions advancing diversity and inclusion on our campus. In July, Professor Russell, Provost Kloppenberg and I sent an update detailing our progress, with more work to do. One of these is to resume the search for the new position, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which was suspended in the spring because of the pandemic and will begin again in September.
In the coming days and weeks, we will share our progress with you. I am grateful for all you bring to this community in reaching our goals for authentic equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Kevin F. O'Brien, S.J.