Diversity Statement from the Dean

Dear CEHC Family and Friends:

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this letter. In my thirty-one years of public service, I have never felt so adrift and pessimistic about our nation and our future. Like you, I watched with horror as George Floyd, an innocent black man, was killed by four white police officers. Like you, I watched American citizens take to the streets during a pandemic to stand up and protest the injustice and racism that is baked into our governmental, legal, and law enforcement systems. Like you, I watched Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutionally protected liberties shot, clubbed, gassed, and arrested to provide photo and campaign opportunities. My heart may be heavy but my resolve to change these cancers in our society and College is unwavering. Hate has no place in an institution dedicated to protecting our communities. I have been thinking about these situations, 140,000 dead Americans and rising from COVID, an economy in tatters, the level of hate, and my role in living the CEHC motto “make a difference.”

To my core, I believe in the mission and values of UAlbany and your importance in building a better future for all of us. As I have reflected on my responsibilities, I realize that I cannot just watch. I cannot just be outraged and angry. I cannot accept an email or a tweet as leadership or action. In short, I will not be a passive bystander to hate and neither can you.

CEHC was built to educate and train you to lead our data collection, information systems, technology applications, homeland security and response agencies. We were conceived to be active, hands-on participants in our community’s safety and wellbeing. To echo the words of President Rodriguez, this is indeed our time. It is our time to show responsible leadership, to use our research for measurable improvements in the lives of our communities, and to repudiate the hate and fear that turns us against each other. It is our time to be a beacon of hope in trying times. It is our time to focus the incredible resources and capabilities of one of the most diverse, research active public universities in the Nation to address the insidious taint of institutional disparities, anti-Semitism, and racism. It is our time to stop being passive bystanders. It is our time to show we are a family committed to the values of diversity and inclusion. And it is our time to hold ourselves to the highest possible ethical standards as both individuals and professionals. It is time to ensure we live the words not just watch others repeat them.

Watching is not enough and words are not enough. We must be prepared to act. Like any family, the first step in dealing with a crisis is communication. Given this, all of us at CEHC are dedicated to moving from passive watchers to engaged leaders, by creating diversity committees, holding more diversity and inclusion events, and ensuring this mission is woven into everything we do. In my mind, this will be the theme of the 2020-2021 academic year. 

This is only the first step. I am committed to working with you and our faculty to incorporate your ideas into classwork, training, experiential learning, and research. I am committed to addressing justice, legal, and service disparities as a core programmatic goal of CEHC. I am not alone, many of the CEHC faculty and staff have already contacted me on how we can better serve you by weaving honest discussions about disparities into everything we do to help develop the ethos needed to sustain measurable changes.

We have an opportunity to change the system – to make a difference – by preparing professionals who can identify discrimination and inequities; who have the tools and moral resolve to create change and advocate for social justice. We must harness the spirit that makes us want to help others to be, learn, think, and act different. I will no longer be a passive watcher and I ask each of you to do the same. While I do not have all the answers, I know that the collective CEHC family does. We need to apply this collective strength to be the gold standard for creating leaders who will embed inclusion, justice, and equality into their actions and organizations of our society.

Robert Griffin