August 21, 2020
Dear Members of the Eastman Community:
As we get ready to start the new 2020-2021 school year, we would like to give you the latest update on the work of the Eastman Action Commission for Racial Justice.
The experience of this 20-member Commission, whose work began in June, has been very profound and very moving, and we have been encouraged by the overwhelming commitment of our Eastman community to ensure that the School is a place where everyone feels a sense of inclusion and belonging.
There is one important matter that we would like to clarify prior to our brief update below:
The official tasks of the Eastman Action Commission for Racial Justice have been the study of the Eastman School of Music with regards to questions of racial diversity and equality, the delivery of a report on the current state of the School in these matters, and the presentation of recommendations for the improvement of the School in these areas. The official work of the current Commission will thus come to an end when its report is formally delivered and two associated public forums are held.
One of the most important recommendations the Commission will make, however, is a recommendation for the creation of an ongoing body to monitor and guide the School’s progress towards racial justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
With that in mind, we would like to tell you all what our Commission has accomplished so far, and what we expect to be working on between now and when we will complete our work with the filing of our final report:
- Conducted, collected and analyzed surveys of Black alumni, current Black students and collegiate and community music school faculty resulting in almost 150 individual responses.
- Collected and examined more than 40 messages from concerned students, faculty and alumni about racial justice and diversity at Eastman.
- Held more than 85 hours of meetings with the Full Commission, smaller Work Groups, individual faculty and administrative staff and one focus group between June 15 and August 7.
- Delivered a preliminary Commission report with nearly 175 recommendations to Dean Rossi on August 10th.
- Conduct, collect and analyze surveys of Eastman’s administrative, professional, environmental services, dining center and public safety staff. (We were unable to survey staff during our initial summer meeting period due to summer schedules, furloughs and lay-offs due to the pandemic.)
- Deliver final report to the Dean and the Eastman community by September 30, 2020.
- Hold an Eastman Community Town Meeting and a Black Alumni Forum to discuss report and recommendations after they become available in Fall 2020.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work on the final pieces of the Commission’s important work. We look forward to sharing the report and recommendations with you in the fall and beginning the work toward greater diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at the Eastman School of Music.
Please feel free to reach out to either or both of us should you have any questions or require any additional information about the work of the Eastman Action Commission for Racial Justice.
Jean and Lee
Lee Koonce, ‘96E (MM), co-chair
President & Artistic Director, Gateways Music Festival
Senior Advisor to the Dean, Eastman School of Music
Jean Pedersen, co-chair
Associate Professor, History, Eastman School of Music and
Arts, Science & Engineering, University of Rochester