You are here: American University Provost Communications June 29, 2020

American University Office of the Provost

Memorandum June 29, 2020

AU Community
Peter Starr, Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer (after July 1)
Antiracist Research & Policy Center

Dear AU Community,

As I assume my position as acting provost in the midst of our turbulent social and political climate, I am writing to reaffirm American University’s commitment to continuing the important work of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center (ARPC). The last few weeks have been a powerful reminder that we cannot—and will not—remain silent witnesses to the routine violence inflicted on Black people in America and in the world. Now more than ever, people are calling for more than statements of solidarity and American University is committed to responding accordingly.

We are grateful for the work that Dr. Ibram X. Kendi began with the founding of ARPC and wish him continued success with the new Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. I join President Burwell and AU’s entire leadership team in reaffirming our commitment to maintaining ARPC as an inclusive and vibrant intellectual space where diverse constituents can share in research, scholarship, and advocacy. In the days to come, we will be initiating a national search for a new executive director of ARPC. Please send recommendations of candidates for that position to Sara Biggs at

In the meantime, I am delighted to announce that Christine Platt, JD, will be returning to serve as ARPC’s interim managing director. An award-winning author and antiracist educator, Ms. Platt formerly served as the center’s managing director and played an integral role in its launch, development, and early achievements. Her scholarship in Black and diasporic history and culture, as well as her ongoing relationships with AU faculty, staff, and students, will be vital to ARPC’s continued success. We are profoundly grateful for Ms. Platt’s commitment to managing ARPC during this period of transition.

I am equally pleased to report that former ARPC environmental team cochair Malini Ranganathan will serve as the center’s interim faculty director for the fall semester. Dr. Ranganathan is an associate professor in the School of International Service and a faculty fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center in the School of Public Affairs. A geographer and critical race theorist, she studies the history of transnational movements against racism and colonialism, urban racial segregation, and environmental justice, including research on Washington, DC. As one of the key faculty involved in ARPC from its inception, Dr. Ranganathan has committed to assisting the university in continuing the center’s important work.

In furtherance of AU’s commitment to inclusive excellence, the particular purpose of ARPC is to connect AU faculty, students, and staff to the Washington, DC, and wider communities. The interim leadership team will strive to aggregate and amplify the work of AU scholars who study race and empire by partnering with external policy and practitioner stakeholders, advocates, and activists. If we truly want to be leaders in eradicating social and racial injustices, we must boldly confront the legacies of racism, imperialism, homophobia, and sexism, among other intersectional modes of oppression. We must support the work of faculty and students across scholarly fields who identify and seek to address the pernicious effects of racial discrimination—from policing and criminal justice, to public health and environmental justice, to literature and the arts, to education and housing.

In the coming weeks, we will provide more insight into forthcoming ARPC programming and initiatives, including a conversation series and a call to action designed for faculty, staff, and students. For the latest news from ARPC, please follow @AUAntiracismCtr (Twitter) and @auantiracismctr (Instagram).

Hearty thanks to Dr. Ranganathan and Ms. Platt for stepping up at a time when ARPC’s mission is more vital than ever. And special thanks to you for your commitment to helping grow AU’s reputation as a national leader in the area of antiracist research, education, and advocacy.