Dear IHP Community,

For the third time in our history, our country on June 19 is celebrating Juneteenth as a federal holiday. For us, this is the first year that MGB has recognized this new holiday with a vacation day for all its employees. 

Although the vacation day will occur this Monday, I am sending this message out early so you will have time to reflect on the meaning of this important holiday. While many people around the country will be celebrating the day off, some will not recognize its importance and its meaning to our country and all of its people.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law on January 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the confederate states were declared legally free. However, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Texas and announced that all enslaved people in the state were freed by executive decree, that everyone in the country finally learned of the law. To celebrate the news, the day became known as Juneteenth.

The 35-year period that followed the end of the Civil War, known as Reconstruction, was a time when formerly enslaved people worked to reunify families and take their rightful place in society through such actions as running for political office and proposing legislation. The National Museum of African American History and Culture notes that Juneteenth and the period that followed suggests that we should never give up hope, even in uncertain times.

As I reflect on the lessons from Juneteenth, I think about the importance of hope in the challenging times we face today. Our country and our society are far from perfect, but I believe that we always have the opportunity to make things better than we found them. The work we are doing at the IHP is a sign of our belief, our hope that our work can improve the lives of others, and our desire that we are contributing positively to the improvement of society. We recognize the importance of the journey and believe in the change that each of us can make in the future. 

I encourage you to reflect on just a few of the organizational changes and academic innovations we have made at the IHP that advances us along our journey of reducing systemic oppression and recognizing and eliminating bias in our work. These are just a few examples of the impactful work being done at the IHP led by the JEDI Office staff and the JEDI Fellows. 

D&I Survey: We recognized that the D&I survey we’ve used for the past several years has had historically low response rates, it was not asking the right questions, and we were never able to benchmark its results. The JEDI Council decided to use a validated survey grounded in research on students’ experiences called the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) survey, which will be launched during the 2023-2024 academic year. It will allow us to better understand students’ experiences at the IHP. 

JEDI Core Competencies: In March 2023, the IHP adopted the JEDI core competencies for all faculty, staff, and students. My direct reports will be mapping out their activities and setting goals based on these competencies. The JEDI Office will provide support to academic and administrative departments to map their activities and set goals. 

SON JEDI Collaborative: The SON JEDI Collaborative launched in September 2022 and is co-led by Dean Ken White and Dr. Eleonor Pusey-Reid. It is a space where members can share JEDI updates and work on projects through subcommittees. Currently, they are working on a school-wide assessment and developing guidelines and resources related to their subcommittee work. Starting this fall, the subcommittees will focus on the areas of admissions, curriculum, faculty/staff/student development, student support/wellness, evaluation/publication/communication, and healthy community. 

SHRS Initiatives: JEDI Fellows in SHRS have helped to design and implement comprehensive JEDI curriculum review processes, and led film discussions, post-PPP processing sessions, and much more. In May, current OT Fellow Tiffany Tsang and Dr. Callie Watkins Liu delivered a summary report from the comprehensive JEDI curriculum review that has been conducted over more than two years with JEDI Fellows, the JEDI Office, and the OT department. This curriculum review process has been an invaluable pilot for integrating the JEDI Core Competencies into the strategic curricular work and developing the appropriate tools and processes to do so. 

Our hope for a future without racism and systemic oppression is what drives us to continue the journey of making our future better for all. Thank you for your work in addressing this goal.

I hope you have a reflective Juneteenth holiday.