4.16.21 | Dear Students: Reflections on the road ahead

Dear Students,

As we near the end of this most unusual and challenging school year, I have been reflecting on all that we have collectively experienced through the pandemic and the continued role of racial injustice within our society.

Though not without its own challenges, the nationwide vaccine rollout has provided a semblance of light at the end of this very long COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.

But at the same time, the rise in violence against the AAPI community over the past year, the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, news of Daunte Wright’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last weekend, and similar tragedies we’ve seen continue in our Central Ohio community and across the nation are all continued reminders of the lengths we yet have to go as a society to end racism and achieve racial equity.

Steering CCAD through the pandemic and trying to help the college be part of a more racially just future is challenging work. And, while it can be difficult some days, I wake up each morning knowing I have a responsibility to our community and an opportunity to make a difference.

Here at CCAD we’re remaining focused on the critical work we have ahead of us to create institutional change and live by our commitment to being an intentionally inclusive community. The Presidential Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion continues to meet regularly, and they’ve been prioritizing steps to improve CCAD in four key areas: Academic and Studio Experience, Campus Life, Institutional Policies and Practices, and Community Connections. I’m pleased to share that we’ve made progress in each area, including the following highlights:

  • Creating a new scholarship that seeks to advance our efforts to continually increase the diversity of our student population. The CCAD Diversity Impact Scholarship (the first of its kind for CCAD), will be awarded this fall to five incoming students who demonstrate how their experiences and identities will contribute to the CCAD community. 

  • Delivering a six-week course for CCAD faculty that focuses on DEI issues such as white privilege, structural racism, and intersectionality. The course ran this spring and was specifically designed to give faculty new insights, tools, and approaches that they can bring into the classroom and studio.

  • Revamping the college’s Diversity Statement to be clearer about what we mean by “diversity” and why the college believes that equity and inclusion are essential to the learning and teaching environment.

  • Launching our Bias Incident Response Team and process. Next week, you will receive an email from Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Athena Sanders, which explains the role of the Bias Incident Response Team and how members of the CCAD community can report a concern.

There are several other initiatives being guided by the DEI Commission that include measures to enhance the faculty hiring process to increase faculty diversity, plans for a comprehensive campus climate survey next academic year, and new approaches to ensure that we’re creating a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds. More details will be shared about these and other initiatives in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I want to know how you’re doing as students.

How are you navigating these challenging times and balancing everything going on in the world with your own work as we near the end of the semester?

And, how can the college support you as we transition to a more on-campus learning model in the fall and some of you transition into your post-CCAD life?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out and share your reflections with me.

With deep regards,