Actions to address discrimination and harassment and create a more inclusive Yale

Date: 
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

To the Yale Community,

I am pleased to share with you updates about our ongoing efforts to create a learning environment and campus community in which everyone feels a sense of belonging. To inform those efforts, I requested a review of our institutional structures that prevent and respond to discrimination and harassment. The review was conducted by Benjamin D. Reese Jr., Psy.D., vice president for the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University and Health System and a national expert on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Over several months, Dr. Reese consulted with students, members of the faculty and staff, and trustees, and he extensively studied Yale policies, procedures, and support infrastructure. I encourage everyone to read his final report, which he submitted to University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews and Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner. They have shared the findings with a number of faculty, students, and staff members, who participated in the review process. After consulting with Secretary Goff-Crews and Vice President Lindner, I endorse the main findings of the report and have decided to adopt its key recommendations.

I agree with Dr. Reese’s assessment that the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs (OEOP) and its predecessors have done an exemplary job over the last forty years in addressing concerns about discrimination. I note his conclusion that adding capacity to the OEOP, and further training staff who work with students, will be more effective than creating a new mechanism specific to racial discrimination covered under Title VI. We will add staff and rename the OEOP, so that it can handle better Title VI and other discrimination reports and complaints.

We are committed to creating an inclusive and equitable campus environment beyond merely meeting legal requirements. To do so, Dr. Reese recommended that we clarify and communicate the leadership structure for the Belonging at Yale initiative. I agree with this recommendation, and I am designating Secretary Goff-Crews to lead the coordination, strategy, and alignment of all campus-wide Belonging at Yale and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. In this role, Secretary Goff-Crews will work closely with the President’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, Deputy Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Richard Bribiescas, Human Resources Chief Diversity Officer Deborah Stanley-McAulay, and other senior leaders on campus.

Under Secretary Goff-Crews’s guidance, a new deputy secretary will support the implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives by schools and units, working directly with members of the University Cabinet and other leaders to ensure our efforts are strategic and unified. The deputy secretary will supervise specialists who will provide ongoing, targeted training for Deans’ Designees, student leaders, and other university members on responding to discrimination and harassment and on creating a culture of belonging to prevent such behaviors.

Secretary Goff-Crews and Vice President Lindner will provide more information about these changes later in the term, and they will announce a forum open to all members of the community to discuss the findings of Dr. Reese’s report. Some of his recommendations, such as improvements in how we communicate across the campus after an incident of discrimination or other event of concern, have already been put in place. As we implement others in the coming months, we will continue discussions with members of the university community, and we look forward to updating you on our progress.

I thank Dr. Reese for his honest and cogent analysis and recommendations, and I appreciate everyone who took time to share their views with him. I am grateful to Secretary Goff-Crews and Vice President Lindner for guiding the review process and ensuring Dr. Reese could meet with broad cross-sections of faculty, students, and staff. Secretary Goff-Crews has my gratitude for leading the coordination and strategy for Belonging at Yale efforts as well.

Today’s announcement builds upon contributions from many members of our university community, who engaged in thoughtful conversations and suggested ways we can create a stronger and more inclusive Yale. This work is an evolving process and requires community-wide engagement. Thank you for joining me in this vitally important effort.

Sincerely,

Peter Salovey
President
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology