Dear Samford Community,

While this message has broad relevance, I want to speak particularly to Samford’s Black students, alumni and employees.

First, I am listening to your stories about the pain of racism.  The wounds, recent or decades old, remain excruciating. I am grateful to those of you who have shared your ideas and hopes for change.  Your ongoing input is essential for Samford to become a better place.  In order to facilitate suggestions from everyone in the Samford community, we have created this site to receive your feedback. You can do so anonymously if you choose.  All comments received will be shared with the executive leadership team as well as the membership of the newly appointed Task Force on Racial Justice.  This group will convene its first meeting by the end of next week.

Second, Samford needs more Black students, faculty and staff. Dr. Denise Gregory and Mr. Robert Holmes Jr., the vice chair of Samford’s board of trustees, are leading the task force that will make specific recommendations for measurable progress.  We desperately need additional funds to provide scholarship support.  The task force will help us with setting scholarship goals, as well.

Third, the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives and the Provost are actively working with faculty leadership to implement curriculum changes that will help students gain improved understanding of racial justice.

Fourth, I will lead in creating a stronger relationship with Birmingham City Schools to increase the number of their graduates who attend Samford.

Fifth, I will be inviting our Black students, faculty and staff to engage in face-to-face conversations about race relations.  I need these members of our campus community to help me discern what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.

Sixth, immediate actions are occurring or will soon occur in many areas of campus life:  appointment of diversity liaisons for academic and administrative units, connected directly to the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives; increased recognition within Samford’s new Honor Code, adopted recently, for the significance of respect for racial diversity; ongoing diversity training for all employees, effective this fall; cultural and sensitivity training for all leaders of all campus clubs and organizations; and widespread support for these and many other initiatives from academic and administrative leadership and the Board of Trustees.

The initiatives and goals cited here are simply the beginning of a long pathway, for which failure is not an option.  We will do more; we must do more.  And “we” includes all of us.

Andrew Westmoreland