June 17, 2021
Dear New York Tech students, faculty, and staff,
Tomorrow, for the first time, New York Tech marks Juneteenth as an official university holiday. Its observance dates back to June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Texas were finally declared free, two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery. Texas declared Juneteenth a state holiday in 1980. As a result of several recent injustices, highlighted by the death of George Floyd and others, and the Black Lives Matter Movement, there is a renewed interest in Juneteenth. Today, 36 states recognize or observe it as a holiday. Earlier this week, Congress voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday; President Biden is scheduled to sign the bill into law this afternoon.
Juneteenth is an opportunity for us to acknowledge a painful part of U.S. history and gives the nation a moment of pause for introspection. Its observance has encouraged numerous organizations, including institutions of higher learning, to create change through the lens of equity, inclusion, and justice.
Over the past year, we at New York Tech have proudly and proactively accelerated our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, including new leadership, faculty/staff training, and student programming. New initiatives from our DEI Task Force this fall will include a campus climate survey, additional online resources, and more. The lessons we learn from these efforts and their outcomes are critical, as universities like ours must lead the way in new approaches and thinking about equity and inclusion.
New York Tech stands by the tenets of justice and inclusion in marking this historic day. We are lucky and honored to have one of the most diverse college communities in the U.S., and benefit greatly from the individual viewpoints, lifestyles, backgrounds, and cultures that define who we are. As such, we will continue to strive to make our New York Tech community stronger and more inclusive by creating safe spaces for each person to learn and grow.
It is our sincere hope that you find some time tomorrow to reflect, pay tribute, and celebrate freedom and its related struggles with your friends and family.
Hank Foley, Ph.D.
President, New York Institute of Technology
Brian Harper, M.D., M.P.H.
Vice President, Equity and Inclusion, Chief Medical Officer