Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Friends of Mathematical Sciences,
The Chair plays many special roles in a department community, and one of the most important of these is as a voice for those who are marginalized for whatever reason by our societal, university or departmental institutions. Recent events have inspired me to write this note now, even though I will be stepping down as Chair on Aug 30 2020. In doing so, I acknowledge the outrage at the killing of George Floyd and other African Americans by those entrusted with our public safety, and I am horrified by the response by some of our police and political leadership. Our country, this university and this department should be beacons of opportunity for all who come to participate. Our story has been one of continual improvement, and we still have much to do.
As Chair, I have worked with faculty and developed concrete practices and policies to expand opportunities during my term. Recognizing that paid summer undergraduate research experiences are a gold standard for future advancement, we have supported every student interested in having a summer research opportunity with us. Recognizing that blind spots affect everyone, we have revamped our faculty search procedures to minimize the impact of implicit biases that work against applicants from underrepresented groups. We are conscious of the fact that who we invite to speak in our seminar and colloquium series impacts whether our students feel that they can be a part of the community of mathematicians, so we work to make sure our external speakers represent the diversity of that community. As a final effort before stepping down, I am working with faculty and our graduate students to create a Graduate Program Group within our department and join the Math Alliance. I know that by doing this, we will be a better and more welcoming department for graduate students from historically underrepresented groups.
As Chair, I accept responsibility for making this department a more diverse and welcoming community so that we can provide opportunity to all who seek it in the days, weeks and years to come.