On July 2, 2020, Head of School Dr. Judith A. Dwyer, and Board Chair Anne Vazquez '99 shared this message with Alumnae:
We have read with great sorrow in recent weeks about the experiences and pain described by our Notre Dame Alumnae, especially our students of color, during their days at the Academy. It saddened us that any student or member of our community ever felt marginalized or not part of the community.
Any expression of racism and inequality is inherently opposed to the Mission and Hallmarks of Notre Dame and the legacy of Saint Julie and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Academy commits to a zero tolerance against acts of racism.The Academy commits to eliminating systemic racism and inequality. We dedicate ourselves to sustaining a community that is transparent, socially just and richly diverse and inclusive.
In recent weeks, we have also engaged in meaningful important conversations with Alumnae Leaders, Faculty and Staff, and members of our Board of Trustees to explore and identify ways in which the Academy may move forward with renewed commitment to foster an inclusive environment in which every student is affirmed and celebrated.
Our Action Plan includes--but is not limited to--the following steps:
- The appointment of Mrs.Tina Williams as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (effective July 1, 2020). Mrs. Williams will be instrumental in guiding this important work, as well as aiding the faculty and staff in providing support for our students of color.
- A comprehensive review of our curriculum to ensure it incorporates the richness of diverse cultures and races across all disciplines and for students in all grade levels. (July 2020 and beyond)
- Ensure our updated curriculum addresses the experiences of people of color in an effort to equip students to identify and combat systemic oppression and racism. (July 2020 and beyond)
- Provide development opportunities and training for faculty and staff concerning key topics within diversity, equity and inclusion in order to equip and support them in discussing these topics in the classroom. (July 2020 and beyond)
- Provide the faculty and staff with training in anti-racist pedagogies. (July 2020 and beyond)
- A comprehensive review of the Academy's Honor Code and Student Handbook to ensure they address racist behavior and outline specific consequences for any and all violations. (Summer 2020)
- Continue to add resources for students of color including the establishment of Alumnae mentorship opportunities with current Notre Dame students. (2020-2021 academic year and beyond)
- Continue to expand the diversity of faculty, staff and students with a particular focus on people of color. We are committed to continuing our work to meet specific benchmarks for diversity as outlined in our Strategic Plan and PAIS (Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools) accreditation report. (ongoing)
- All Notre Dame Board of Trustees meetings will include a review of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues. (July 2020 and beyond)
- Notre Dame's Parents' Association commits to engagement with us on issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as parent education. (2020-2021 academic year and beyond)
We look forward to the important days ahead with hope and trust and we commit ourselves to more essential conversations as we continue in this important work. Notre Dame will provide ongoing information and updates through our ND Weekly, monthly electronic Alumnae Newsletter and quarterly updates from the Head of School.
We thank our Alumnae Leaders for their continued help and engagement. We are blessed to have Alumnae who deeply care and love Notre Dame.
Judith A. Dwyer, Ph.D. Anne Vazquez '99
Head of School Chair of the Board of Trustees