To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Richard M. Rhodes
Date: June 2, 2020
Subject: A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
This week, we begin classes for the summer 2020 semester amid a global pandemic and a growing national crisis. I usually send a welcome message at this point of the semester, but our reality demands something different. What is happening in our communities and across the nation cannot go unnoticed.
Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with our Board of Trustees and to our community. It is most important that I share my message with you. There is a lot of pain, hurt, and anger due to racial injustice — especially among our African American community. Our thoughts are with too many families who have lost loved ones. What happens in one community affects us all. As your community college, ACC must look deeper at what we can do to affect change.
ACC is home to one of the nation’s campus centers for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. Our center will be a place where we encourage honest and courageous conversations. We are committed to being both an engine of upward mobility and a source of community healing. As your college, we will not only continue on this journey, but we will do more.
Right now, ACC is prioritizing hiring a chief equity officer. We will do this despite a hiring freeze. We are creating a community dialogue that fosters open, honest discussion through our ongoing truth and racial healing work. We are doubling down on success strategies aimed at erasing barriers and improving all student outcomes. We will keep front and center our commitment to a fair and equitable society. ACC will be at the table — listening — and we will take action. We will not ignore what is happening in the communities we serve.
Thank you to the many ACC students, faculty, staff, administrators and community partners who have led and continue to lead our equity work. Our work is far from done. ACC believes deeply in equity, inclusion, peace, and social justice. My hope is that through education and an open dialogue, healing can take place. For those of you searching for someone to speak with, I encourage you to reach out. Our counselors are ready to meet with students virtually and employees may connect with a counselor through our Employee Assistance Program. This has been a challenging year for all of us, but it has shown us that we are stronger together.
Richard M. Rhodes, Ph.D.
Austin Community College District