Through their commitment, strength, and determination, Black executive decision-makers at Tufts demonstrated leadership excellence in ways that continue to impact and enrich all areas of our university today. Leading While Black reclaims and shares this legacy in order to ask big questions about our university, now and in the future: What are the parameters of executive leadership at Tufts? How have Black leaders, in particular, contributed to expanding the core missions of research, teaching, learning, and civic responsibility in ways that heighten excellence for all of us?
We cannot ignore the fact that over its 170-year history, Tufts has only had a handful of Black executive leaders. In addition, a number of Tufts schools have scarcely had any Black executive deans, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, these schools in particular have had the lowest representation of Black faculty over the decades.
Equity and justice require transformations in decision-making processes, and in who the decision-makers are—transformations that can have generational effects. And, in this work of institutional change, we all have a part to play. Ella Baker (1903–1986), one of the great community organizers of the 20th century and a visionary grassroots civil rights leader, insisted that all members of a community have the “right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives” and that we can break boundaries by moving “toward group-centered leadership, rather than leader-centered groups.”
Whether we are students, staff, faculty, administrators, or alumni, we must exercise our voice and commit ourselves to advocacy so that our university leadership better reflects the members and experiences of the whole community, especially the historically underrepresented and underserved.
Here are some resources and actions to help carry this conversation further:
- Explore the Leading While Black website
- Participate in upcoming Leading While Black events
- Share your stories about transformative Black leaders and mentors at Tufts, using #LWB
- Educate yourself in Africana studies in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora
- Visit the Another Light on the Hill: Black Students at Tufts exhibition in the Coolidge Room at Ballou Hall
- Visit Digital Collections and University Archives to access the documentary heritage of Black leaders at Tufts
- Contribute your own photographs, recordings, documents, and digital records to ensure your story is preserved in the University Archives
- Join town halls and meetings with university leaders to add your voice
- Engage with friends, colleagues, and leaders to broaden the conversation about the decision-making processes and the boundaries of leadership
- Talk about a plan for change at the Generous Listening and Dialogue (GLAD) Center
For more information on how to support programs around diversity, equity and inclusion for the Tufts community, please contact Miriam McLean, University Advancement: 617-627-5975, firstname.lastname@example.org.