Neuroscience Department Statement Against Systemic Racism

(July 2020)

We in the Department of Neuroscience are horrified and deeply saddened by recent events that highlight the longstanding racism entrenched in our society. Shocking episodes of racial violence across the nation have galvanized efforts to root out the systemic biases that enable these atrocities to recur. We strongly support these goals.

There is no excuse for indifference or complacency in the face of the injustices that threaten the safety of Black members of our community and persistently limit opportunities for people of color in our society. Therefore, we commit ourselves to eradicating the pervasive impact of racism and inequality in our Department, University, and Community.

As a Department, our core missions of discovery and teaching will not flourish without the dedicated action and commitment of each and every one of us to maintain a fully inclusive and supportive environment in which every member of our community can fully thrive. We are actively engaging all members of our Department in identifying and eliminating barriers to achieving this goal through town halls and working groups. Central areas of focus include education and training to address implicit and explicit bias, promoting sustained community and inclusion, and recruitment and support of graduate students, fellows, and faculty from diverse backgrounds, crucial to realizing the best science. In recent years, we have made progress in increasing matriculation of graduate students from under-represented minorities. We plan to build on this initial success by enhancing the diversity of our faculty. Milestones will be monitored by our Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, which represents trainees and faculty, and provides a forum for ongoing dialogue on these critical issues.

By working together with other Departmental partners, we will advocate for the University to fulfill its core mission of “diversity and inclusion”. Specifically, we will seek allocation of resources to minimize the impact of the pandemic on low-income University employees and to underwrite diversity recruitment and inclusion efforts.

Through outreach to our Community, we can help catalyze further the changes necessary to combat endemic racism and heal our society. To this end, we encourage all members of our Department to donate to organizations devoted to fighting racial injustice. Furthermore, we will continue to promote science education in our Community, provide training opportunities in our laboratories for under-represented minority students, and pursue academic and professional exchange opportunities with under-represented minority faculty and partners from institutions dedicated to preparing diverse scholars for biomedical careers.

As these societal issues have festered for generations, we understand that implementing change will require sustained efforts and unwavering focus. We are committed to working together as a Department to face these immense challenges head on for as long as it takes to succeed.

  • Rick Huganir – Director
  • Dwight Bergles – Vice Chair of Research
  • Shan Sockanathan – Vice Chair of Faculty
  • Jim Knierim – Vice Chair of Education
  • Jay Baraban – Co-Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Solange Brown – Co-Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion