Statement from Dean Jeffrey Brock

Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, that African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed that they were free, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today, like all of you, I am devastated to see our nation once again roiling in the aftermath of the senseless and sickening murders of black Americans - of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor - and of Rayshard Brooks, shot in the back in my hometown of Atlanta by a police officer. These events, 155 years later, tragically illustrate how the plight of black Americans remains a national story of profound injustice. Our grim intoning of the names of black Americans whose lives have been cut short has produced no answers and few messages to reassure our black community that this intolerable pattern cannot, must not, and will not be the norm.

I want to affirm for everyone in our Yale community who is feeling anger, hurt, and bitterness in the aftermath of these events that I stand with you in defense of the core principles of justice, fairness, and equity that so many are marching and protesting for across our nation.

What does any of this have to do with academia? With Yale? With Engineering? Everything. The halls of higher learning increasingly produce innovators who envision and create the technologies and systems that shape our social networks, guide the way we live, work, and interact, and generate the reality we perceive. When institutions like Yale and its School of Engineering & Applied Science fall short of fully representing society in all its diversity and complexity, they cripple their own ability to work for purposeful societal change - the kind that can lead to more equitable, peaceful, and just communities.

These recent events have called us to new awareness of the urgency of change in these halls. This week, I have called for all of our SEAS departments to reflect on how we can plan together to move toward a more inclusive community in science and engineering at Yale. At SEAS, we've long strived to be a place of diversity and equity - but I am confident that a focused, concerted effort can move the needle in new substantive ways. I have asked every SEAS department chair to develop a diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan. These plans will be developed in consultation with the entire departmental community – students, trainees, staff, faculty of all ranks, and alumni. I've also asked departments to consider their departmental climate and its role in retaining diverse faculty, trainees, students, and staff. We will be judged based on the real changes we can realize.

These first steps will set a much larger project in motion, and I look forward to planning and shaping a School of Engineering & Applied Science that can fulfill our best hopes for what Yale can bring to the world. I encourage any one of you who has questions, concerns, or suggestions to reach out to me. We have much to learn from one another.

Jeffrey F. Brock
Dean, School of Engineering & Applied Science
Dean of Science, FAS
Zhao and Ji Professor of Mathematics