University President Steven Knapp called for a campus-wide concentration on racial inclusion this upcoming academic year in a statement reacting to racially charged shootings last week.
Knapp said in the statement sent Tuesday that the GW community should push to create a “sustained and serious” dialogue about race on campus during his final school year as University president.
“In the coming year we will strengthen and accelerate our efforts to make sure we realize our promise to be a community of scholars in which the interests, contributions and aspirations of all our students, faculty, and staff are recognized, respected and given the fullest possible scope,” he said. “I invite every member of our community to join that effort.”
Knapp’s statement was in response to last week’s “national outrage, mourning and prayer,” he said: Two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police officers in separate events last week. Five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas at a “Black Lives Matter” rally Thursday night.
This is the second time in a year that Knapp has issued a University-wide statement about race relations on campus: In November, he addressed protests surrounding racial bias at the University of Missouri that led to the institute president’s resignation.
Since his first statement, Knapp has been “moved and saddened” to learn about the barriers minority students and faculty face at GW, he said in Tuesday’s statement.
Faculty, staff and students should prepare graduates to encourage inclusivity beyond GW, he added.
“Our most important contribution to addressing the sources of such violence is not through what we say or do here but through the graduates who, when they leave us, carry their knowledge and their commitment to justice beyond these walls and out into the world we count on them to change,” Knapp said.
During his tenure, Knapp has presided over an effort to make the University accessible to diverse students. He oversaw creating a vice provost position focused on diversity in 2011, and he hired a new vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement in May. Knapp also participated in a discussion at Howard University last year about race on campuses with student leaders and administrators from universities across the District.