June 12, 2020
Dear students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of CHHS,
I speak on behalf of our College community in saying that we share the same sentiments expressed by President Dean and Provost Jones about the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. We’ve seen racial injustices play out for far too long, and this most recent horrific event reminds us again of how pervasive the toxic legacy of racism is in the United States. This offers us a context for understanding the subsequent protests that are occurring throughout the country. We stand with those protesting and fully support the right of people – in particular those marginalized by society – to advocate and fight for their full humanity.
It is not just police brutality that is being called to light. It’s the discrimination of people of color within our healthcare system. Public health professionals across the country are rallying the cry that racism is a public health crisis, and we couldn’t agree more. Racism assaults the health of people of color, depriving them of the most essential social, mental and physical health services. The disproportionate rate of Black people in America sickened and killed by COVID-19 is a glaring example of a health system that was built upon the pillars of discrimination.
As an academic institution that educates students in health and human service disciplines, we are bound by our moral and ethical standards to not only bring equity and inclusion into our classrooms and teaching, but also instill the importance of those values as our students graduate and enter into caregiving fields. We strive every day to embrace our core mission to improve the lives and communities of the people we serve, regardless of the color of their skin. However, we realize that in many ways we have been complicit with the very healthcare system that we send our graduates into every year.
Last year, the College established the Committee on Ethnicity and Race Equity (CERE) as a standing committee in the College. This endeavor created a mechanism that brings us together as a community to improve how we address racial inequities and meet the challenges of creating an equitable environment for our students, faculty and staff. Through this effort, we recognize and accept the responsibility for our own self-reflection, as individuals and as a College.
Our motto is “we rise by lifting others.” As Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, I assure you we will confront this public health crisis head on through research, advocacy and education. As we move forward, we commit to having the difficult conversations, addressing our biases and putting into place policies that ensure equitable health and social services for everyone.
Michael S. Ferrara, Ph.D., ATC
Dean, College of Health and Human Services
Kent P. Falb Professor of Kinesiology
University of New Hampshire