I shared those words above with the Denison community in January 2020 as the university embarked on a journey of candid and critical self-reflection. With racial tensions boiling over across the country, it was time for us to take a deeper look into the role we can and should play in correcting our country’s long and painful history of racism.
It was essential to begin at home — to recognize our achievements in diversity, equity, and inclusion and call out and address the places where we have fallen short. A college campus should be a supportive space to confront our past, delve into the structures that shape contemporary society, and find ways to work together to create a better future. Institutions like Denison, steeped in the values of fairness and equality, carry the responsibility and privilege of spreading positive change throughout society.
Denison Forward is our commitment to changing the way we think and act — and to spark, nurture, and demand that change in society as well.
We know that shifts in societal behavior, even our own, do not come easily. Progress rarely happens overnight. Denison Forward is a thoughtful, inclusive, and data-driven approach to understanding the road behind us and carving a better path ahead. Among other recommendations, our action plan calls for increasing recruitment and retention of a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff; including antiracism as a part of professional development efforts; and making sure our students, particularly those who may face obstacles due to structural racism, have the resources and opportunities to launch into their chosen career paths.
This plan is just the beginning. I am grateful for the hard work so many have put into developing Denison Forward, and I encourage our entire community to take part in this evolving plan to change — to improve — how we think and act. Together, we can shape a world based on human dignity and respect.
As Denisonians, we must strive to be part of the solution.
President, Denison University