we call on the college

In response to the nation’s catastrophic racist roots and recent virulent expressions of racial hatred and violence in 2020, particularly with the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, President Harring responded with outrage and sadness and reaffirmed Muhlenberg’s fundamental values of diversity, equity and humanity.47

In a June 9, 2020 letter, Muhlenberg’s Black faculty, recognizing not only our nation’s racist history and structural inequities, but also the College’s inequities, challenged the will of the institution. The Muhlenberg Black Faculty Letter and Action Plan48 advocated for “tangible, transformative, and permanent change” and listed urgent action items to “provide a foundation for continued, consistent work in creating an anti-racist, inclusive atmosphere.” This momentous document was not only an urgent call to action but also a valiant illustration of the pressing needs to move the College beyond gesture to actual systemic changes. 

President Harring responded49 with a message of solidarity and shortly thereafter followed with  a number of action steps,50 many of which were also part of the Black Faculty Action Plan. In July 2020, the Board of Trustees declared their commitment51 to action by writing, “we affirm that Muhlenberg will do better and more to dismantle racism and injustice.” Across the campus, beginning in Summer 2020 and continuing through Spring 2021, staff and faculty were tasked with deep reflections about and shared resources for anti-racist practices and pedagogies.  

Since the tumult and calls for change of 2020, students, faculty and staff, and the administration have made concrete strides toward  becoming a college that is more inclusive and representative of the diversity of our community.  

In 2020, Dr. Emanuela Kucik launched Muhlenberg’s first Africana Studies Book Club, which celebrates Global Black Literature and is open to all members of the community. Dr. Kucik, along with Dr. Purvi Parikh and Dean Robin Riley-Casey launched a new, ongoing event series –– From the Ashes of Relentless Racial Crises: Creating a New United States of America, which focuses on building and advocating for interracial solidarity.  

In 2021, Muhlenberg joined USC Race and Equity Center’s Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance and became an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). Dr. Brooke Vick spearheaded this initiative as Associate Provost for Faculty and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives.

In the spring of 2021, Zaire Carter ’22 was elected the first Black president of the Student Government Association. 

That year also saw the creation of the Professor Roberta Meek Africana Studies Award to honor Professor Roberta Meek and celebrate both her work and the students who are following in Professor Meek’s incredible legacy of anti-racist scholarship and activism. The first recipient was Giovanni Merrifield in 2021. The second recipient was Mustafa Hall in 2022. The Award recipient is chosen each year by both Africana Studies and the Office of Multicultural Life (OML). 

Dr. Giancarlo Cuadra and Dr. Emanuela Kucik launched, and currently co-direct, the Graduate School Preparatory Program for Students from Underrepresented Backgrounds. The GSPP is jointly housed in Africana Studies, OML, and the Career Center. 

In 2022, Dr. Brooke Vick was named Muhlenberg College’s Inaugural Chief Diversity Officer. Dr. Vick also continues to serve as the Associate Provost for Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Justin Preddie became the first hire in the two tenure-track positions promised to Africana Studies. He is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Psychology. Robin Riley-Casey was named Associate Dean of Students and Diversity Initiatives. Dr. Emanuela Kucik was named the Inaugural Faculty Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a new initiative the College created to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives on campus. 

Gio Merrifield ’23 and Maria Rivera ’23 created a revamped version of an affinity group that had previously existed on campus (Queer Transgender People of Color, founded by Amoy Gill ’20) and launched QTPOCC — Queer Transgender People of Color Collective.  

Dr. Elena FitzPatrick Sifford and Dr. Emanuela Kucik co-created a new, ongoing series that brings together Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Africana Studies — Beyond Borders: Global Blackness and Current Events

Additionally, the faculty voted to approve the Race & Power curricular requirement. 

We invite you to explore more details about the work that is happening at Muhlenberg in the 2020-2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report.

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