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Stewarding NACAC in its Efforts to Condemn and Help Dismantle Systemic Racism

By Jayne Caflin Fonash, NACAC President

Headshot of Jayne Caflin Fonash, NACAC President

As NACAC president, it is my responsibility to steward this organization into the future and to be clear through words and actions that NACAC condemns racism in all its forms and is dedicated to advancing efforts to address the systemic inequities and ongoing injustices within education and the nation at large. 

To our African American members, who today are confronted yet again by historic and systemic racism in this country, and to the African American students and other students of color you serve every day, please know that I see you, hear you, serve you, and that I will continue to care deeply and seek to impact change every day in my personal and professional life. I'm proud of the growing diversity among people of color in our membership and I will continue to approach change and reconciliation with an open heart and a willingness to listen to every one of you.  

When we left Louisville last September, we did not foresee a country in civil unrest, or a world entirely disrupted by COVID-19. Even so, the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission was charged to address long-standing inequities in college admission, beginning with a charge to answer the question: What does the future of accessible, equitable, ethical postsecondary enrollment and retention look like, and how will we change to make it happen?

This diverse group of leaders, which has met regularly over the last year, recently revisited its original charge through the lens of the unfolding pandemic and the acts of racism and social unrest. Without question, the initial charge to re-imagine a postsecondary education system that is accessible, inclusive, equitable, and affordable is more crucial now than ever. The committee’s white paper has now been submitted to the Board of Directors and will be a cornerstone of our work at our June board meeting next week, where we will continue to address issues including diversity, equity and inclusion, mission and vision clarity, and transparency. In the coming months, you can also expect to hear updates from the board on proposed revisions to our mission and vision statements; a 2021 membership model that extends NACAC membership to everyone in an institution, from most junior to most senior; and a nimble project-focused ad hoc committee structure that will enable greater inclusion in representation from our membership.  

Every person in this country, every community, every industry, bears responsibility for change. Our niche in this frightening and unsafe world is to continue to seek justice in all ways by working to eliminate institutional discrimination, prejudice, and exclusion in our education system. I am committed to doing this essential work, alongside and in partnership with each and every one of you. 

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