Dear Pitzer Community:

We write to provide an update on President Oliver’s announcement of a Pitzer-wide initiative focused on racial violence and injustice.  Because this initiative centers primarily on academic issues, we have decided that it will be coordinated out of the Dean of Faculty’s Office (DoF). 

In terms of a broad overview, we envision an initiative that infuses racial justice throughout the Pitzer curriculum, with additional reach into co-curricular programs and spaces.  Furthermore, this initiative will include looking inward – at our own institutional policies and practices, community norms and actions, and linkages with community partners – as well as outward and to how Pitzer can be a broader agent of change.  Pitzer College has a distinguished history of community engagement and an institutional commitment to social justice. We know that this work is difficult, can be fraught with tension and opportunity, and takes time and concerted effort.  Thus, we are projecting a three-year window for this initiative with funding support from the President’s Office and the DoF.   

At this time, we are pleased to announce that Associate Dean Adrian Pantoja and Associate Dean Susan Phillips will co-chair an organizing committee for this initiative.  Associate Dean Pantoja’s diversity portfolio and Associate Dean Phillips’s community engagement portfolio make them ideal candidates to co-lead this work.  As well, both possess relevant scholarly expertise and frontline experience working to understand and combat racial injustice and community violence. We have already reached out to the Office of Student Affairs, Student Senate leadership, and Staff Council about their collaboration and desired involvement, and also will be including student identity groups, including the Black Student Union, on the organizing committee. The goal is to make this initiative campus-wide, transformational, inclusive, and sustainable.  Please expect to hear more from Professor Pantoja and Professor Phillips as they work to flesh out the organizing committee as well as the range of activities and time frame for implementation.

To jumpstart this work, we are planning an inaugural panel discussion led by President Oliver on Thursday August 13 at 2 pm as part of the Juice series.  Later this month, we expect to make available course development funds for faculty to modify existing classes or develop new ones as early as this fall semester.  And, we have begun discussion about campus-wide events to take place throughout the academic year.  In conjunction with the above efforts, different offices and programs in Academic Affairs, including the Art Galleries, Community Engagement Center, Study Abroad, the Robert Redford Conservancy, IGLAS, and the Writing Center, are making plans for activities and programs that connect to this initiative.  Finally, although many activities under the umbrella of this initiative will be Pitzer-specific, we expect that some efforts will be coordinated with consortial partners, including with the current Pitzer-led Justice Education Initiative. 

We invite you to contribute to this endeavor and to share your ideas with the organizing committee.  We know that many Pitzer faculty, students, and staff address issues of violence, bias, and injustice in their scholarly work, teaching and learning, and programming.  This initiative will help support and expand that work. Today, we stand on the precipice of societal awakening and cultural change. Our goal is that this initiative will help us to effectively identify and address racial bias within our own community while also positioning Pitzer as an institutional leader in justice-based work that combats systemic racism, discrimination, and violence.

Provida Futuri,

Melvin L. Oliver                                            

Allen M. Omoto
Dean of Faculty