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Dear Olin community, 

Last June, former President Richard K. Miller and I wrote to you about the death of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd joined a long list of Black men and women, some well-known and others less well-known, who have died at the hands of police. These men and women were vulnerable and their lives were devalued simply because of the color of their skin.

Yesterday, 11 months after Mr. Floyd’s murder, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd’s death. This verdict is a step toward accountability, but it will not erase the pain and the hardships experienced by communities of color because of systemic racism.

Mr. Floyd’s death sparked a national awakening about racial inequity, with millions marching in peaceful protests this year calling for real, lasting change. Those calls cannot be answered by a jury verdict alone. This year has shown us, repeatedly and in many different ways, that the change we seek will not be easy and will require meaningful and steadfast effort.

I believe that addressing inequity is the great challenge of our time. It is a challenge that those of us in higher education, whether we are students, faculty or administrators, can and should address. I also believe that no challenge is too difficult when we work together, teaching and learning from one another along the way.

At Olin, we are called upon to do good in the world. This past January, I shared a vision for Olin’s future, a new direction for doing good in the world that, at its core, aims to reduce inequity both within and through engineering education. I am confident that the world – and we ourselves – will be better for having realized our vision.