Dear USC Rossier Faculty, Staff and Students,
Welcome all of you to the 2017–18 academic year!
To our students: Whether you are beginning a new path or continuing your studies, I want to offer you the encouragement and resources that you need to complete your journey to becoming a transformative educator, counselor, researcher or adviser.
To our faculty: I extend my support and appreciation to you, too, for the depth and breadth of your ongoing contributions, not only as teachers and researchers, but also as active and critical voices in the public square.
And to our staff: You operate on a twelve-month calendar, and it is through your constant dedication that our school is able to deliver on our vision of ensuring that we create a world where every student, regardless of personal circumstance, is able to learn and succeed.
We are all in this together!
As we begin this new year, many of us are still processing the events that took place in Charlottesville and the pain caused not only by white supremacy over one weekend but by the racism, sexism and homophobia that persist in our society.
Let me remind all of you that USC Rossier continues to be a community that values diversity and inclusiveness, and we have zero tolerance for bigotry and intolerance.
We understand and embrace what it means to proclaim that “Black Lives Matter,” but as teachers and scholars we also see the challenges of overcoming the barriers presented by those who misunderstand or misconstrue these words. We should all be ready to address the anxiety and concerns of our students, as well as from one another, in the days, weeks and months ahead.
We at Rossier have been undergoing an exploration of our mission—“To improve learning in urban education locally, nationally, and globally”—accepting the realization that, in this case, our own words have not been strong enough or clear enough for the goals we are setting for ourselves. In the coming months, with input from students, faculty and staff, we will work to better incorporate the idea of equity into our mission, and to understand how we can better live up to our promises.
Shaun Harper, director of the new USC Race and Equity Center, just returned from a trip to Charlottesville and wrote about his experiences in an essay that appeared today in Inside Higher Education. I encourage all of you to read it.
While so many of the discussions about race and equity are occurring on college campuses—and we certainly have many challenges to address in higher education—Dr. Harper reminds us that educators need to understand the ways young children are socialized to racism and white supremacy. For those of you pursuing or continuing careers in K-12 settings, USC Rossier commits to helping you learn what your own values and biases are bringing to your classroom experiences.
This is a moment for leadership, and no one is better suited to it than us. We will use our knowledge and skills to confront injustice. We will counter harmful behaviors and policies. We will strive to overcome our own implicit biases. We will be a model for practicing what we preach. We have the best scholars and staff to do this work.
I look forward to meeting our newest students and continuing to engage all of you in these important discussions throughout the year.
Karen Symms Gallagher, Ph.D.
Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean
USC Rossier School of Education
Waite Phillips Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0031