Letter to the Editor: Carnegie Mellon strives to improve with inclusiveness

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I’m writing to address Carnegie Mellon University’s use of a racially offensive map that violates the values of our university. I am deeply saddened and embarrassed. Simply put, it should have never been created, let alone used for years. I apologize for the hurt it caused those in our community, on and off campus.

I was impressed by Liam O’Connell’s opinion piece in the Tartan last week that highlighted the history and vibrancy of the communities that were left off our map. He rightly pointed out that if we improve our diversity and inclusivity efforts, we can have a positive influence on each other, Carnegie Mellon and the communities that surround our campus. These sentiments are at the heart of the conversations I have been having with our community since I became provost.

We have members of our community who call these neighborhoods home. And many of our students, faculty, and staff are already deeply engaged in these neighborhoods through community-driven research, service and other activities. As a university, we know we must and will do more to connect with neighbors from every neighborhood in our surrounding community.

Making real progress is extremely important to me. This past year, I asked each academic dean to develop comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion plans. We recently requested that each administrative unit do the same. The strategies and, most importantly, the actions that will result from them are vital to Carnegie Mellon making forward progress. This past Nov., we made a commitment to hire a vice provost and chief diversity officer, and I expect this leader and a well-resourced office to be established by the fall semester.

Striving toward diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to Carnegie Mellon’s mission. It improves our ability to produce great research, generate knowledge, and educate students who make a difference to society. To be a more welcoming and inclusive community, everyone must have a place at the table and we must be willing to engage each other fully, listen to, and learn from each other. And then, together we must make change.

Our journey towards this goal is a long one and we will certainly fall along the way, as we did in this case. I know this community is committed to getting there.

Jim Garrett, Jr. is the current Provost of Carnegie Mellon University.