Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
Harvard’s commitment to excellence is deeply connected to our efforts to attract students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives. Exposure to difference fosters creativity, challenges settled assumptions, and helps make possible the advancement of knowledge central to our educational mission. Equally important is our responsibility to provide access and opportunities for talented individuals from all parts of our society.
Like other educational institutions, Harvard has come to understand that the promise of diversity requires attention beyond our hiring and admissions decisions. It is no less important for us to create an environment on campus that is open and inclusive and that inspires a sense of belonging for all members of our community. Such an environment will enable all of us to do our best work and be our best selves. Schools and units across Harvard have taken up this essential work at a local level, but, as noted in the 2015 Report of the College Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, the University itself has a foundational role to play in reinforcing institutional values and commitments, and in supporting policies and structures that reach across the campus. I am therefore writing today to announce the creation of a University-wide task force composed of faculty, students, and staff to consider a set of important and interrelated questions designed to advance us on the path from diversity to belonging. The membership and charge can be found on the Task Force’s website.
The Task Force will be co-chaired by Danielle Allen, professor in the Department of Government and the Graduate School of Education, and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Archon Fung, academic dean and Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard Kennedy School; and Meredith Weenick, vice president for campus services. It will engage in active outreach with an eye toward gaining a broad understanding of the lived experience of the diverse populations on our campus. It will also solicit ideas about ways to strengthen our shared commitment to building a community in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Please find a way to have your voice heard; the Task Force, and the entire community, will benefit from thoughtful input on issues that are fundamental to our institutional values.
I am grateful for the willingness of the Task Force members to serve, and I look forward to learning from them as they engage with the issues presented in the charge. The work ahead, however, belongs not just to the Task Force but to all of us. Only through sustained and collective effort will we help bring the realities on campus closer to our highest aspirations.