A Letter from President Ronald J. Daniels

President Ronald J. DanielsDear Faculty, Students, and Staff:

Over the past several months, we have been engaged in broad conversations about the roles of race, diversity, and inclusion on our campuses. These conversations were animated by concerns raised by members of our own community, a recognition that our progress in this area has been insufficient, and an unstinting belief that the excellence of Johns Hopkins depends on our success.

In early 2016, we released a draft of the JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion, a document intended to capture our priorities and ambitions, and to state in explicit and concrete terms our own institutional commitments. And we have spent the months since the release of the draft listening to you. In focused forums, meetings, emails, and deeply personal conversations, you offered thoughts on our successes and shortcomings, suggesting new approaches and new paths that will advance our agenda. I am grateful for your engagement and profoundly moved by your dedication to this institution and its future.

In our consultations, some have questioned the need for these efforts. I do not. As stewards of this university, we are singularly and unapologetically focused on sustaining its excellence. And, at a time when people and ideas flow freely and cross-pollinate in ever more surprising ways, our community must remain open to—and inclusive of—all. A rich diversity of people, background, experience, and thought is central to our work; to our missions of education, research, and service; and to our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.

Today, conversations about diversity at Johns Hopkins echo those voiced over many decades. No institution is a blank slate, and ours today reflects and embodies our previous choices, and those of the society around us. Contemporary calls for hiring more African-American faculty, better promotion opportunities for staff, and a strengthened campus climate echo those made in previous decades, and raise legitimate questions about the depth and steadfastness of our commitment to change.

We do not undertake these efforts described in this document in a vacuum; a rising national dialogue stands as a potent backdrop to our work. Across this country, other colleges and universities are wrestling with the questions we face: how to reach as broadly as possible when recruiting students, faculty, and staff; how to provide opportunities that allow all members of our community to thrive; how to broaden the scope of our education and research missions to be more inclusive of all; and how to create an intellectual and social environment that supports our entire community. As we answer these questions at Johns Hopkins, we will look to best practices at other institutions, borrowing good ideas when relevant. But in the end, the paths we choose to follow must be our own.

We launch this Roadmap at a time when our home city, Baltimore, is still reeling from tragic and dispiriting events—including the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody, and a Department of Justice report that painfully details long-standing disparities in policing—and from an increasingly shared recognition of the disparities in citizen health and well-being that exist among our own neighborhoods. At Johns Hopkins, where so many of our neighbors learn and work on our campuses, the issues raised in our Roadmap cannot be separated from broader conversations about our city.

The JHU Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion does not attempt to answer every question before us. Rather, it is intended to point us, urgently, toward a place where individuals will thrive on their own terms, and where we foster the kind of academic pursuit that attracts and supports a broadly diverse community. There are no easy paths to this goal, and the work before us will take a frustrating amount of time. But it is absolutely essential for the long-term excellence of this institution, and I remain confident in our collective ability to evoke important change.

The following document, which has been endorsed by the university’s board of trustees, will be included among the governing policies and practices of this institution. It will, no doubt, evolve over time to reflect new and emerging approaches to diversity. But it will stand as a core accountability framework, where our progress—our successes, and failures—is subject to periodic evaluation and public accountability.

Thank you for helping us use this moment as a catalyst for lasting reform.