Racial equality task force

Please read our Brains and Behavior Statement here


University community,

We wrote to you last week condemning the senseless deaths of George Floyd and Ahmad Arbery, in addition to those of Breonna Taylor and countless other African Americans. This has put our country on alert that change must happen. Let’s be very clear that we at Georgia State stand against racism and violence. It is not sufficient, however, to simply condemn these things. As an institution of higher education, it is our responsibility to foster difficult conversations and identify solutions.

To that end, we’re pleased to announce that the following distinguished members of our university community have agreed to serve on the Task Force for Racial Equality:

  • Chair, Jonathan Gayles, Chair and Professor of African-American Studies, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gwendolyn Benson, Associate Dean for School, Community and International Partnerships, College of Education & Human Development
  • Curtis Byrd, Special Adviser to the Provost
  • Cynthia Lester, Associate Dean of the Clarkston Campus and the Division of Math, Computer Science & Engineering, Perimeter College
  • Rodney Lyn, Interim Dean of the School of Public Health
  • Elizabeth Beck, Professor of Social Work, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
  • Jennifer Esposito, Chair of the Department of Educational Policy Studies, College of Education & Human Development
  • Collins Airhihenbuwa, Professor of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health
  • Elizabeth West, Professor of African-American Studies and English, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Natsu Saito, Distinguished University Professor of Law, College of Law
  • Jennie Ward-Robinson, Special Assistant to the Dean, College of Arts & Sciences (Center for African Diaspora)
  • Joe Spillane, Chief of the Police Department
  • Donna Frazier, Chair of Staff Council
  • Linda Nelson, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Opportunity Development
  • Allison Calhoun-Brown, Vice President for Student Engagement and Programs
  • Kaelen Thomas, President of the Student Government Association
  • Jessica Siemer, President of the Graduate Alliance

At their first meeting yesterday, the members were charged by the provost with providing advice and guidance on:

  1. Identifying how Georgia State, using our curriculum, teaching, research, community outreach and global activities, can address and reduce systemic racism and police violence against Black people and other underrepresented groups at the university and in society;
  2. Identifying important conversations for Georgia State’s community to increase understanding and awareness of issues of police violence and racial discrimination against Black people and other underrepresented groups; and
  3. Identifying ways in which Georgia State may best support our Black and other underrepresented students, faculty, staff and community.

These are heavy times, and we have great challenges ahead. We must work together to address racism in America and foster a better world for our children. As we identify next steps in the coming days and begin our conversations, we’ll engage our university community to help create vehicles for sustained change. Look forward to updates and communications soon.

President Mark Becker & Provost Wendy Hensel