Message from the Dean: Update on Georgetown Law’s Commitment to DEI
October 7, 2021
Dear Members of the Georgetown Law Community:
Being back together on campus this fall has been a powerful reminder of what sets Georgetown Law apart. Our course offerings, the work of our more than 300 clinics and centers, and our community’s engagement around social challenges such as the looming eviction crisis and the delivery of international humanitarian aid all reflect the commitment to advancing justice through the law–which defines the Georgetown Law experience.
Central to this commitment is our work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Indeed, at Georgetown Law, our belief in the critical importance of DEI is rooted in our founding as a Jesuit institution that has always sought to open more doors and to be a force for social justice.
As I shared with our community last spring, and with new students during orientation, we are taking several steps this year to make Georgetown a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable place for our students to learn, for our faculty to teach, and for our staff to work. To achieve justice in our society, we must have more individuals of all backgrounds—racial, socioeconomic, and cultural—working to realize it. And to provide students the broad legal education and leadership training this time demands, it is essential that this school be an environment that is both diverse and inclusive.
To this end, I am pleased to announce the launch of Georgetown Law’s first-ever Inclusion Council, to be chaired by Sheila Foster–the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Urban Law and Policy, Professor of Public Policy and Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion–and Dean Everett Bellamy, our recently appointed Interim Director of Equity and Inclusion. The Inclusion Council will report directly to me, and its charge will be to facilitate activities and propose reforms that will increase inclusion and belonging for all members of the Law Center community. The Council will comprise students, faculty, staff, and alumni, with the goal of ensuring that multiple perspectives and voices are heard, and that recommendations reflect your input.
I expect the Inclusion Council to be a vital partner to me and to our community as a whole over the next year or more, as we work to imagine new ways of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at the Law Center, and in the world beyond. In the short term, a top priority for the Council will be reimagining and making recommendations for the future structure of our Office of Equity and Inclusion.
As the Inclusion Council moves forward, we promise to share regular updates with the community about our progress and ways to get involved.
Lastly, I want to provide an update regarding commitments that I shared in my March 21, 2021 message to the community:
- Reporting Mechanisms: I remain confident in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action (“IDEAA”) and the reporting mechanisms in place to track and address incidents of bias, and as the office that receives and investigates formal complaints of harassment or discrimination from students, staff and faculty.
- DEI Training: We continue to offer DEI training for all faculty, and I am pleased to report that we have already conducted 4 training sessions over the course of last spring and summer. Moving forward, DEI training will be strongly encouraged for all faculty and will remain an important tool in our DEI programming.
- RISE Program: In the coming weeks, I will be sharing an update on the RISE program and the announcement of the first full time director. This is an incredibly important program and one that I am deeply proud of. Since 2018, it has grown from a program that supported students in the fall semester of their first year to one that now spans all three years and includes 110 students in this year’s entering class.
- Our faculty recently voted to adopt a new institutional learning outcome (ILO), an expectation that all Georgetown Law students will gain the “[a]bility to think critically about the law’s claim to neutrality and its differential effects on subordinated groups, including those identified by race, gender, indigeneity, and class.” To implement this ILO, the faculty adopted a new graduation requirement for J.D. students (beginning with the Fall 2022 entering class) and directed that all students encounter the ILO’s themes in at least one class in their first year. This vote was yet another important step towards building an inclusive community.
As we look to the year ahead, I am very hopeful about what we will achieve together. One of the many things that attracted me to Georgetown Law was the motto that is so deeply ingrained in this institution: Law is but the means, justice is the end. Today, as never before, is a time to be guided by that motto. In this year ahead, let us commit and recommit to the work of building a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and ultimately just community—on our campus, in our classrooms, and in the city and society outside of our doors.