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Dear Santa Clara University Community,

Over the last week, I have heard the calls for urgency in taking action regarding the events of last Saturday. I share your urgency and have taken initial actions that I am announcing today. These steps are the beginning of what will be a continuing commitment to do what is needed to lead this community to racial and restorative justice.

One of the most significant and encouraging developments is that we have retained Judge LaDoris Cordell (Ret.) to conduct a comprehensive review of Campus Safety Services. With decades of experience in the judiciary, higher education and many other areas of public service, the widely respected Judge Cordell will bring to the process rigor, fairness and compassion. Her experience as an independent police auditor for the City of San Jose will be invaluable to us. As the leader of this University, I approach this review with appropriate humility and a heartfelt desire to improve who we are as a community. Members of our Campus Safety team welcome this and will participate in the review constructively and openly. The audit is beginning immediately and our goal is to conclude by the end of this calendar year. More details about this process will follow from Molly McDonald, Chief of Staff, who will coordinate the support Judge Cordell needs in executing the audit.

I would also like to say a few words about the pending investigation. As with any investigation regarding the conduct of members of the University community, all are entitled to an objective, impartial review process. We will fulfill this obligation with integrity, which includes the participants’ right to confidentiality and due process. The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the Interim Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, which was developed and approved through a collaborative process of students, staff and faculty. The findings of the investigation will be shared with the parties and forwarded to an independent panel of faculty and staff for final determination in accordance with that policy. Under the same policy, any of the parties may share the findings of the investigation and the final determination.

Importantly too, we have made the commitment to conduct anti-racist bias training across the University including Cabinet members, deans, and other leaders. We are hiring a trainer from the team of Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt, the renowned Stanford University professor and expert on unconscious bias research, whose work is described at We are in the process of securing dates in the very near future so that the trainer can begin to meet with all employees in Campus Safety Services. These trainings will not be one-time only, but integrated as part of our ongoing formation in creating a more diverse, anti-racist, and welcoming community. On-campus experts will help deepen this formation.

At the end of this emotional week for many, let me close on a personal note. One of my primary responsibilities as president is to hold the University together in challenging times such as these. This is not easy, especially when I see so many who are hurting, angry, disappointed, or confused and when I recognize my own, very human limitations. In such moments especially, I believe that God offers us unexpected grace, and a surprising invitation to personal growth and communal solidarity. As we come to terms with recent events on campus, embrace substantive changes, continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, and begin our academic year, my deepest hope is that we will dip into deep wells of empathy, mutual respect, and care for each other. In the best of our tradition, we do well to advocate with keen minds and passionate hearts, but never in a way that diminishes others. If we strive for a justice that is truly restorative and reconciling, healing and hope will come, with the help of God and one another.


Kevin F. O'Brien, S.J.