In light of the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 has instructed the University Cabinet — a group of senior academic and administrative leaders — “to identify specific actions that can be taken in their areas of responsibility to confront racism.”
“Confronting the realities and legacy of racism, both in our own community and in the world at large, requires commitment at every level of our institution,“ Eisgruber wrote. “This will be an ongoing effort, one that will require our collective attention and the input of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”
The University Cabinet consists of 23 members in addition to Eisgruber — including Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School Cecilia Rouse, Dean of the College Jill Dolan, Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, Provost Deborah Prentice, Dean of Admission Karen Richardson ’93, Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni, and President of the Princeton University Investment Company Andrew Golden.
All Cabinet members have been asked to submit reports by August 21 “that specify a set of actions that could be taken within your areas of study to identify, understand, and combat systemic racism within and beyond the University.”
Specifically, Eisgruber wrote that such reports should consider the strengths and weaknesses of the University’s efforts to “eliminate racism on its campus and beyond,” what the University should do to more effectively stand against racism, and how the University can learn from and partner with organizations and communities in New Jersey and beyond to “cooperate productively to fight racism.”
The group will come together in late August to develop plans for implementing such actions, according to the letter.
The Board of Trustees will also convene later this month “to continue discussing how the University can help fight systemic racism,” according to Eisgruber.
Eisgruber wrote that the University “must seize this tragic and searing moment in American history to ask how we can more effectively fight racism — through our teaching and research, through our operations, and through our interactions and partnerships with those around us.”
In a letter to the broader community, Eisgruber pointed to some recent initiatives that the University has started — including the new Princeton RISE grant program that provides resources for students who want to engage in summer work that addresses racial injustice.
The University has also identified funding for faculty members hoping to expand course offerings related to anti-racism and put out a fall for faculty-led projects in research that addresses racism. As the University announced earlier this week, all faculty, including lecturers and instructors, are able to submit such projects, “funding will be available immediately, and proposals will be accepted now through Aug. 31.”
However, Eisgruber emphasized that the University “must do more.”
“We have convened several task forces during the past decade to study issues of diversity and inclusion at Princeton University and made progress by implementing changes they recommended,“ he wrote to Cabinet members. “We have not, however, focused on eliminating racism. That is the charge I give to you now.”
Eisgruber and Board of Trustees Chair Louise “Weezie” Sams ’79 have also “initiated a conversation” within the Board of Trustees on topics of systemic racism — “beginning with individual conversations with every trustee.”
“The full board will convene in a special meeting later this month to continue discussing how the University can help fight systemic racism,” the letter notes.
This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.