Dear Westminster Community,
More than 800 members of our community participated in a series of online conversations over the last two weeks. We are grateful for your ideas, feedback, and suggestions. Your participation speaks volumes about your desire to work toward helping our school to become a more equitable and inclusive community. In the days surrounding these conversations, we also heard from many Black students, parents, alumni, past parents, faculty, and staff offering insights of their own, often accompanied by painful stories of experiencing racism within our school. Sharing these distressing and heartbreaking stories has required great courage. We have listened and will continue to do so.
Our school community has a challenging journey ahead of us. Our promise is to fully ensure Westminster provides the same powerful sense of belonging for all members of our community. Realizing this potential will require bold imagination and hard work.
We acknowledge that our words will ring hollow without tangible action that brings about change in our school. Black Lives Matter in our world, in America, in Atlanta, and at Westminster. We must resolve to envision the school we can become for every member of our community and the beacon we can be to others in this long overdue transformation.
While this will be a journey for us, we commit to the immediate action steps below, understanding that we still have more to learn and understand. They are the result not only of our own reflection, but also of the contributions of so many members of our community who have offered recommendations. We are grateful for this continuing engagement and know that to be successful we must move forward together.
To Develop Strong Institutional Leadership we will:
- Move forward to form the Board of Trustees’ new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as a standing committee chaired by Trustee Dana Weeks Ugwonali P’23 ’25 ’27. This committee, unanimously approved by the Board (June 17, 2020), will have diverse representation providing oversight and direction to our ongoing work.
- Retain outside consulting support to conduct a comprehensive, objective assessment of Westminster's climate, policies, and programs to identify opportunities for improvement in creating a more inclusive school environment.
- Establish a new full-time position on the Leadership Team reporting to the President to provide leadership, coordination, and community accountability of equity and inclusion initiatives across the whole school.
- Establish a Black Alumni Council to make recommendations regarding structure, leadership, and meaningful ways of engaging, mentoring, and supporting our Black alumni community.
To Make an Immediate Impact on our Climate and Program we will:
- Effectively communicate our school-wide commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Explicitly state our intolerance of behaviors that compromise the experience of any community member.
- Expand and deepen anti-racism education and cultural competency development for students, faculty, staff, administration, the Board of Trustees, and parents. Integrate the components of this learning as permanent parts of the curriculum and program of Westminster.
- Complete a thorough review and revision of the Pre-first to Twelfth Grade curriculum to incorporate the voices, experiences, history, and contributions of both Black and other historically underrepresented individuals and communities.
- Complete a review and revision of honor, citizenship, and disciplinary policies and their implementation in every division to ensure that neither racist nor discriminatory conduct is tolerated at Westminster.
To Ensure our School Community Reflects our City and Nation we will:
- Create benchmarks and support systems for hiring and retaining Black and historically underrepresented faculty and staff in all divisions and departments of Westminster. Ensure that alignment to Westminster's diversity, equity, and inclusion commitment continues to be a key factor in hiring decisions for all faculty and staff.
- Expand outreach and access to support the enrollment of Black and historically underrepresented students in all divisions of Westminster.
To Hold Ourselves Accountable to our School Community we will:
- Measure school community feedback for each initiative and report progress annually to the whole community. Provide an interim progress report by October 15.
To Ensure Financial Resources are Dedicated to Long-term Change we will:
- Implement the Board of Trustees’ unanimous decision (June 17, 2020) to designate a $5 million endowed fund to provide immediate permanent resources to support these initiatives. This fund represents an investment in this important work that will provide an annual source of support beyond our operating budget.
We also recognize the need to continue the conversation with our whole community and especially with our students whose leadership will be critical to our success. Healing and reconciliation will require an examination of our history and the building of even stronger relationships, person by person, toward the shared goal of preparing each of our students to thrive in our multicultural world. We look forward to the ways these conversations will amplify and add to these initial action steps.
Thank you for your faith in Westminster. The work we have in front of us is worthy of our best efforts, and we are confident that we will rise to meet this challenge together.
Joel Murphy ’76
Chair, Board of Trustees