Eastman Action Commission for Racial Justice

Dear Members of the Eastman Community,

The events of the past few weeks are serving as the impetus for society to engage in systemic and transformational change on behalf of racial justice.  While Eastman has been very committed to issues of diversity, equity and access, as demonstrated by initiatives like the Eastman Pathways Program, the co-founding of the ROCmusic Collaborative, and our partnership with the Gateways Music Festival, we can and must do better. 

I am announcing the formation of the Eastman Action Commission for Racial Justice.  This 20-person commission of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members has been charged with developing a prioritized list of action items Eastman must undertake.  I am pleased that Jean Pedersen, Associate Professor of Humanities at Eastman, and Lee Koonce, President & Artistic Director of Gateways Music Festival and Senior Advisor to the Dean, have agreed to co-chair this commission.  The names of the Commission members appear below.

In my charge to the Commission, I stated, “The time is now for Eastman to take bold and decisive actions that do more than demonstrate our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access—our actions must also provide clear evidence of our stance against racism, bigotry, and discrimination.”  The Commission’s recommended initiatives must be meaningful to the Eastman Community, actionable, achievable, measurable, and sustainable.  The group will be considering all elements of our school including, but not limited to:  the curriculum, concert and event programing, admissions, increasing the diversity of our community, student and residential life, and community engagement.

The timeline for this work will be relatively short.  I have asked for the recommendations to be prioritized into three phases of implementation – immediately, at the start of the fall semester, and over the long-term. I thank the co-chairs and members of the commission for their willingness to take on this important and vital initiative, and I will share a summary of the Commission’s work upon completion. 

Eastman’s commitment to the enrichment of community life is steadfast.  As artists and educators, it is our responsibility to create and model the world as we desire it to be within our own community—free of racism, discrimination and oppression.  Tangible change will occur as a result of meaningful actions. I look forward to receiving and implementing the recommendations from this commission, which will emanate from and represent the entire Eastman community. 

Sincerely yours,

Jamal Rossi



Lee Koonce, ‘96E (MM), President & Artistic Director of Gateways Music Festival in
association with Eastman School of Music; Senior Advisor to the Dean (co-chair)

Jean Pedersen, Associate Professor of History, Eastman; Associate Professor of History, AS&E (co-chair)

Isrea Butler, ‘04E; ’06E (MM), Chair, Music Department, North Carolina Central University

Lourdes Cossich, ‘13E; ‘15E (MM), Westtown School

Christina Crispin, ‘04E (MM), Associate Director of Admissions

Anaar Desai-Stephens, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Brianna Garcon, Junior, Horn

Armand Hall, Executive & Artistic Director of ROCmusic Collaborative

Dalanie Harris, Senior, Double Bass

Clay Jenkins, Professor of Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media

Tim Long, ‘92E (MM), Associate Professor of Opera; Music Director, Eastman Opera Theatre

Brad Lubman, Associate Professor of Conducting & Ensembles; Director, Eastman Musica Nova

Trevor Nelson, Ph.D. student, Musicology

Dallas Oestara, Composition and Humanities Department Assistant, (commission support)

Rachel Roberts, ‘03E, Associate Professor of Music Leadership; Graduate Degree Program Director, Institute for Music Leadership   

Herb Smith, ‘91E, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; Instructor, Eastman Community Music School

George Taylor, Professor of Viola

Travon Walker, Senior, Baritone

Thomas Warfield, Senior Lecturer, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Department for Performing Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology

André Washington, ‘10E, Global Finance Associate, Sidley Austin LLP