Black Lives Matter
Dear Yale School of Architecture alumni,
Like so many around this country and the world, I am filled with grief and anger over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others. To the Black and African-American members of our community I recognize your pain, I am with you in solidarity, and I understand that our institution must do more to support you.
By now many of you have signed or seen an open letter written by your fellow alumni demanding changes at the Yale School of Architecture to address past injustices and structural racism. I value each of you and believe that alumni constitute an important part of our community, now and into the future. If you experienced racism or oppression at the school, please know that I am here to listen, to learn, and to work toward real change.
I, along with the faculty and staff, will take time to fully understand what is being asked of this institution and what changes we must make to address past injustices as well as to ensure an inclusive and just future, both for the School and the profession. From our conversations thus far, I recognize the need to reconsider how we have defined the “canon” of architectural knowledge, broadening its limits to encompass a wider range of works, and identifying the embedded biases that have protected its boundaries that are in such need of dismantling. To do so, we need a more diverse faculty with perspectives that challenge us. Similarly, I realize that we must admit, matriculate, and support more students from diverse backgrounds, particularly the future generations of African-American architects, still woefully underrepresented within our profession. Our approach to architecture must include sustained dialogue with the community, not only as part of the building project but throughout the curriculum. We need to commit to equity, diversity, and inclusion, both in institutional infrastructure and support and in training.
I hope to speak with many of you over the coming days. Please send me your thoughts and ideas; this is the most important work for my tenure as dean and I’ll need your help.
I also include with this email a message I sent out to students, faculty, and staff at the School on June 2 so that you can see what conversations have already begun and how much work we still have to do. I regret not sending it to alumni immediately; I should have invited you into these discussions earlier.
Despite the anger and disappointment I can feel in the letter, I also see it as evidence that alumni care deeply about this institution and its future. I am thankful for your guidance and your care.
Deborah Berke, FAIA LEED AP
Dean, Yale School of Architecture