A Message from Dean Cohen to the SCI Community

Dear SCI Community,

As the nation continues to respond to the senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many other African Americans whose lives have been lost to hate and injustice, we at SCI want to acknowledge the impact that this has on our community.

To our African American students, faculty, and staff who must carry this constant burden, know that we stand with you.

I would like to echo Chancellor Gallagher’s message about looking inward to how our institution can be a catalyst of change, and encourage those seeking to be allies and participate in anti-racism work to focus on actively listening to and learning from underrepresented voices in our school, across the University, and in our field.

If you have not previously done so, I encourage you to read the messages from Chancellor Gallagher and Provost Cudd on their commitment to reshaping the University to be a more inclusive and just place, as well as the powerful and personal letter written by my friend Jimmy Martin, U.S. Steel Dean of the Swanson School of Engineering.

In his letter, he says, “I, too, am only one traffic stop away from a potentially fatal encounter. It is inconceivable for me to feel comfortable walking the four blocks to my local gym wearing workout clothes, especially in the evening.” This is just one example of many that permeate our University community, and society at large, and exemplify the very real fears felt every day.

The question is how to turn our outrage into action. For many of us, systemic racism may be an abstract concept, but we must actively work to find tangible examples that we can begin to dismantle. Effective action requires not just knowledge and understanding, but also opportunity for discussion:

  • As we look for ways to determine how the SCI community can be a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable place, I would ask that you provide your feedback so that we can build a better community together.
  • At Pitt, there are a variety of upcoming events and opportunities to hear from experts from across the University
  • The University Counseling Center is available for students in need of services or support.

In solidarity,

Paul Cohen
Founding Dean
School of Computing and Information