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.