Statement on Recent Tragic Events

Dear Members of the Penn Chemistry Community,

In light of the most recent tragic acts of violence against Black persons, I am writing to denounce racial injustice and reaffirm our steadfast commitment: whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey of scholarship, you are welcome here in Penn Chemistry.

Like you, I am outraged at the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black men and women who have been killed due to the systemic racism that has afflicted our country for generations. There have been demonstrations across the nation, and researchers and staff from our own Department have participated here in Philadelphia. I am horrified by aggression against peaceful protestors. Our community is resolute in its support for the fundamental civil rights of all Black persons.

Our ideals harmonize with President Gutmann’s reminder that we “create a more inclusive and mutually respectful environment and society free from discrimination and deprivation”. Penn Chemistry represents a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students, and our strength derives from our diversity. We value the highest ideals of respect and dignity in our daily interactions as we strive to maintain an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and intimidation. These principles are encoded on our departmental website and guide our daily lives.

As President Gutmann notes, it is particularly important now that all Black persons in our community know that their University supports them. As Dean Fluharty declared in his statement, let’s “renew our commitment to one another and work to address head-on the injustices that led us to where we are now.” We must do our part to strengthen our community and move forward from these terrible days of injustice. President Gutmann shared information on the Penn Projects for Progress and the Year of Civic Engagement in her email earlier this evening. The Penn Women in Chemistry group has shared a valuable list of anti-racism resources. We aspire to increase the diversity of our department at every level and in every way.

In the coming weeks, I will convene a committee of faculty, students, and staff to discuss strategies that we can pursue to strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We will move forward together and make our community stronger. Until then, my heart is with all those who are in pain this week.

David Christianson