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During Black History Month, Auburn will acknowledge and honor on campus the accomplishments of African Americans around our country and at our university. While we are pleased to host numerous speakers and events in coming weeks, it is an especially important time to reflect and learn from the struggles of Black Americans during this period of social unrest and a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting African Americans.

The in-person and interactive events include a poetry reading, movie showings, panel discussions, guest lectures and a unity march. I encourage you to participate in these events as a means to celebrate Black history, learn more about the African American experience and develop a deeper understanding of ongoing racial and social inequities.

Last June, we pledged institutional leadership and resources to seek meaningful action on equity and inclusion. Today, I reaffirm our collective goals and commitment.

Many of you are aware that the Auburn Board of Trustees Task Force and the Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity have made numerous advancements since the summer. For example, trustees announced at their Feb. 5 meeting that two Village residence halls will be renamed. Eagle Hall will be renamed in honor of Josetta Brittain Matthews, who was Auburn’s first Black graduate and first Black faculty member. Tiger Hall will be renamed in honor of Bessie Mae Holloway, who was Auburn’s first Black member of the Board of Trustees.

Likewise, last November, the Student Center was named the Harold D. Melton Student Center. Melton is the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and was the first African American president of the Auburn Student Government Association. Another positive advancement is the creation of a National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza to recognize the rich history of Auburn’s Black Greek organizations.

The Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity has identified priority action items for the Auburn community. The recommendations were made to address inequities in four key areas: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Education, Faculty Recruitment and Retention, Student Recruitment and Retention and Staff Recruitment and Retention. Progress on these initiatives will be posted on the task force website.

While we are moving in the right direction, much important work is ahead. I will keep the campus community informed of our progress with regular updates as we continue to grow together and shape an equitable and stronger Auburn experience for all.

Sincerely,

Jay Gogue
President