You are here: American University President Announcements September 28, 2020

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community, 

I’m often asked about how the current crises have impacted our Changemakers strategy. While it is not true about every single element of our strategy, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, economic uncertainty, and structural racism have accelerated the need for so many of our priorities. 

Our changing world demands action in all three areas, and we are enhancing work in a number of ways. In addition to our ongoing response to COVID-19, we are driving new thinking about the future of health in places like our new Hall of Science and our groundbreaking Center for Neuroscience and Behavior. To help students of all ages better determine their own financial future, we are creating new approaches to lifelong learning, such as the Capital CoLab Digital Technology Credential, which connects credential recipients directly to the region’s leading employers.

In the third area of crisis, as the nation and our community continue to address the devastating effects of systemic racism, I wanted to update you on some ongoing work among our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. These initiatives support our broader Inclusive Excellence strategy and we will be providing more information about the next phase of our IE plan in the coming weeks. 

  • We are recruiting the new executive director for the Antiracist Research and Policy Center (ARPC). This critical position will help write the next chapter of ARPC, including important scholarly work with faculty and students, engagement with key partners, and helping the AU community with antiracist work on our campus. I want to thank our interim APRC leaders Malini Ranganathan and Christine Platt for their outstanding efforts. Recently, the ARPC hosted an important event about racial equity and education, and I encourage you to watch the video of this powerful discussion.
  • American University graduate student Mia Owens is the inaugural fellow for a new, two-year Public History Graduate Fellowship in the History of Slavery and Its Legacies in Washington, D.C. The fellowship is a partnership between the White House Historical Association (WHHA) and AU’s Antiracist Research & Policy Center. Owens, who is pursuing a master’s in public history in AU’s Public History program, will spend two academic years researching and developing interpretive material around the history and legacy of slavery throughout the city as part of WHHA’s Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood initiative. 
  • The Kennedy Political Union’s new Black Lives Matter series featured civil rights leader Angela Davis, who spoke about diversity and inclusion efforts, justice, the global nature of today’s movements to address structural racism. The event was cohosted by the Student Union Board, the Black Caucus Committee, the Women’s Initiative, and Students for a Just Society. School of Education Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy moderated the discussion.
  • The School of International Service hosted award-winning author, scholar, and activist Dr. Bettina L. Love, who shared the implications of her work on race, education, abolition, and Black joy for university students and faculty. 
  • AU’s Alumni Board recently hosted a series of conversations about systemic racism. Darlene Slaughter, SPA/MSHR ’93, chief people officer at March of Dimes, and member of the President’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion facilitated these conversations. The conversations leveraged the AUx curriculum and encouraged board members to self-educate on the issue of systemic racism. The Alumni Board has pledged to continue these conversations, and to define steps that the board can take in supporting this work at AU and beyond.

I encourage you to explore the many areas of our strategy and help us continue our work on the leading edge of change. While we all rightly focus on the critical work of today–navigating the pandemic and pursuing scholarship and learning in a difficult time–the opportunity to shape the world that comes after COVID-19 lifts us all. Our strategy, combined with the dedication of AU changemakers, will ensure that our community continues to thrive long after the pandemic.

Continuing Our Connections Through COVID-19

The pandemic has reshaped our lives for more than half a year. So many have been impacted in so many ways. We know it has been challenging, with remote work and online learning interrupting many of the opportunities for connection that we cherish at AU. I hope you will use our resources to continue and build relationships, from the Campus Life Fall 2020 Student Guide and the new Eagles Everywhere site, which helps connect with other AU community members in different parts of the country and world, to the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program and the Campus Communities and Affinity Groups. Engaging with fellow Eagles in new and enjoyable ways made possible by the ingenuity of our students, faculty, and staff, is so important to maintaining the bonds of our community.

As we enter flu season and with ongoing spread of COVID-19, it remains incredibly important to wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, and follow other key public health guidance. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, are in quarantine, or tested positive for COVID-19, please submit a Self Report to confidentially notify the university. This form should be completed whether you are in the DC region or elsewhere in the world so we can support our community. If you are unsure if you should report, please refer to these charts for students and employees outlining various scenarios for self-screening and reporting. One of the most powerful tools to address a pandemic is information, and we appreciate your efforts to help keep our community safe.

While uncertainty challenges us in many ways, it is heartening to see our strategy and our community moving forward in pursuit of our goals and creating the solutions we all seek today. Changemakers is more than just a blueprint for the university, it is purpose that we share as Eagles. It is part of what makes the AU community not only unique, but engaged in these challenges to help make our world change for the better.

Be safe and be well.


P.S. - We are moving to biweekly Monday messages for the remainder of the fall semester, so look for the next note on October 12. Updates on new and timely developments related to COVID-19 and our ongoing response will continue as needed.