Spring 2020 Dean’s Message: The work we must and will take up

We are at a historic crossroads. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have focused our nation’s attention, and the world’s attention, on the anti-Black racism and violence that has occurred in our country for hundreds of years. And the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic upheaval have shined a light on glaring inequities in the everyday realities of many Black and Brown lives in this country.

As a School of Education, we acknowledge the painful, devastating legacy of racism in the United States and in the world, and in particular the terrible effects it has had and currently has on the lives of Black children and adults engaged in the pursuit and enactment of education. As a SOE, we must reckon with that educational history and strive to rectify it in Central New York – with the educational professionals who we are preparing, with our interactions with and treatment of each other, with the school and community partners with whom we collaborate, and with the larger CNY community.

Our School of Education community shares a core commitment “to operate from a social justice philosophy that includes advocating for the rights of historically marginalized populations and for educational, health, and broader forms of equity”. Now is the time for our SOE community to wrestle with the history of Black pain and trauma, to identify how we have been complicit in that pain and trauma, and to learn with and from Black people as we seek to “lead through inclusion, inquiry, and action”.

I ask you to join us in this wrestling, identifying, and learning. The Dean’s Office will work with the SOE Committee on Diversity to lay out a series of justice initiatives with and for students, staff, faculty, alumni, and school and community partners. The “virus” of hate will not be stopped by wearing masks and social isolation. Instead, we must redouble our commitment to advocate and work for justice for all in everything we do. This is work that we must take up and will take up.

In the midst of this historic time, I think of our graduates and offer them my heartiest congratulations. They have persevered in the face of disappointment and uncertainty. Our e-newsletter has photos showing some of their celebrations, as well as end-of-year honors and awards. We are proud of our students, faculty and staff who adapted to teaching remotely during the second half of the spring semester and the summer sessions, as well as our alumni who are teachers, leaders, counselors, and higher educators who have continued educating in this new environment. I’ve heard inspiring stories of collaboration, passion, and flexibility of the work of Orange educators during the last three months that make me so #ProudtobeSOE!

As we plan for the coming academic year in an ever evolving context, we have guidance from two SOE planning task forces – one comprised of faculty and one comprised of staff. The task forces have each identified issues that we face in re-opening the School of Education, and made recommendations for possible strategies to deal with these issues. We are having school-wide discussions and working together to plan for the health and safety of all (using Syracuse University guidance), while maintaining our high-quality instruction and experiential learning, and supporting faculty and student creative and scholarly work.

I wish you an engaged and meaningful summer! Please walk with us in the work we must and will do.

Joanna Masingila Signature

Joanna O. Masingila
Dean, Syracuse Univerdity School of Education