Building a Strong Foundation

March 8, 2019

Today, on International Women’s Day, I hope you will join me in taking a moment to celebrate the accomplishments of women and reflect on the challenges we still face to full equity and inclusion. In this country and around the world, women and girls face barriers to education, health care, and opportunity. Despite significant progress, discrimination and violence prevent many women from achieving their full potential, and women of color face additional obstacles.

Several university groups, representing the tremendous diversity of Yale’s staff members, are marking International Women’s Day at locations around campus. They are offering flowers and accepting donations to benefit the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund. Through their efforts, they encourage us to consider what we can do in our own communities to empower women.

Ever since I first arrived on Yale’s campus as a graduate student in psychology, I have been amazed by the array of people who care deeply about this university and the world. We build on our different backgrounds, perspectives, and talents to accomplish a wide variety of tasks: teaching students, cleaning offices, conducting research, preparing meals, answering phones, and much more. No matter what our role, we are part of the Yale community. And to do our best work, all members of the Yale community need to feel welcome and at home.

Fostering a sense of belonging and community is vital to our work at Yale. New programs, made possible through grants from the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life and the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, create space for conversation and the open exchange of ideas. They allow us to hear many different voices and learn from one another. A conference about women in business and technology at the School of Management; a film screening and panel discussion on Native American schooling, behavioral health, and historical trauma; and a photo exhibit of Yale and New Haven community members of Southeast Asian descent are a few of the initiatives supported by these grants this spring.

The Yale community—and the difference we make in society—extends far beyond New Haven. Later this month, the Yale Alumni Association is hosting a conference, “Impact: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Through Social Change,” featuring alumni, faculty, and staff. This event will bring together alumni from different generations who are leaders in their fields, offering insights and inspiration about national and global challenges. I hope you will participate.

I have said before that diversity is a pillar of this university; it is perhaps more fitting to say it is the foundation of all we do. By investing in a strong foundation, we advance Yale’s mission—to create knowledge and understanding that transform the world. I am grateful for the work our students, faculty, and staff are doing to make Yale a more welcoming and inclusive community. Together, we are building a strong foundation for the future.