In the most recent episode of the Access to Excellence podcast, George Mason University President Gregory Washington joined Wendi Manuel-Scott, a history professor in the School of Integrative Studies, and Shernita Parker, an assistant vice president for Human Resources at Mason, via Zoom to discuss the work being done by the university’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force.
Manuel-Scott and Parker co-chair the task force of more than 130 Mason faculty, staff and students. The creation of the task force was one of Washington’s first initiatives when he joined Mason in July 2020 as its president.
“My goal for Mason is very simple,” Washington said. “Mason enters this dialogue with an impressive record in anti-racism and inclusive excellence already, but my goal is to propel it to be a national leader in this effort.”
He points out Mason is not alone in these efforts. Since George Floyd’s death, more than 250 U.S. colleges and universities have created anti-racism programs.
“This is a movement,” said Washington. “And Mason is a part of that.”
“The shift extends far beyond institutions in the United States,” said Manuel-Scott. “It is a bit of a global awakening. It’s exciting to see the various ways that institutions are grappling with systems of inequality that existed in the past and continue to have a footprint in present.”
“The conversations are important, the research is important, but at some point, there has to be action,” said Parker during the hour-long discussion. “That’s always a commitment we have at Mason—to take action. Putting ourselves into an issue… and really attacking the problems.”
The task force’s six committees—University Policies and Practices, Training and Development, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Student Voice, Research, and Campus and Community Engagement—have worked hard over the past months and are ready to share their initial recommendations for the Mason community's feedback and consideration. They will be making recommendations to President Washington and university community in the first of two virtual town hall meetings on Tuesday from 2-3:30 p.m.
Registrations to participate in the town hall via Zoom have reached capacity, and the university community is encouraged to tune in to the event live through GMU-TV at gmutv.gmu.edu/live.
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