June 5, 2020

Louisville-area university presidents pledge to do better for their African-American students

Neeli, people

By Eli Hughes–

Louisville-area university presidents co-signed a letter to their students and community members on June 3, addressing the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

“We, as leaders of higher education institutions in greater Louisville and Kentuckiana, are aware both of the promise of higher education as a transformative force in society, and of the problematic history of these very institutions in perpetuating racial inequity,” the presidents said in the letter.

They went on to pledge to five actions that they could take as leaders of their institutions:

  1. “We pledge to educate ourselves and our own college and university communities to recognize and work against structural racism.
  2. We pledge to work together to improve access to higher education for our African-American and other students of color.
  3. We pledge to create pathways for African-American and other students of color to meaningful and high-demand jobs and careers and acknowledge the need for more Black professionals in healthcare and education and engineering and law as in many other spheres.
  4. We pledge to engage fully and meaningfully in the life of West Louisville.
  5. With our institutional privileges of knowledge, reach, resources, legacy, and more, we pledge to consistently demonstrate our commitment to the objective fact that Black Lives Matter.”

The eight university presidents that signed the letter were University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi, Bellarmine University President Susan Donovan, Ivy Tech President Travis Haire, Jefferson Community and Technical College President Ty Handy, Sullivan University President Jay Marr,  Spalding University President Tori McClure, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary President Alton Pollard III, and Indiana University President Ray Wallace.

The same day the letter was sent out, Bendapudi joined some of the other university leaders at a protest in downtown Louisville to stand in solidarity with the protesters.

Photo by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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