Welcome message from Dr. Sherri Charleston

September 15, 2020
Charleston Headshot

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

On September 1, 2020, I began my tenure as the Inaugural Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and I can unequivocally say that I am equally thrilled and honored to serve this historic institution at this transformational moment in the history of our university and nation.

As many of you know, in March of 2018, the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, released its final report, Pursuing Excellence on a Foundation of Inclusion. In that document, the Task Force called for coordinated efforts and deliberate attention towards the goals of yielding increased diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all members of the Harvard community.

In my first 30 days, I have had dozens of meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges with hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, and staff who are as committed to this great institution as they are to the work of ensuring a diverse and inclusive Harvard where everyone can thrive. There are many more of you whom I am eager to meet. If you are interested, please join my Friday morning office hours open to all Harvard community members by signing up to speak with me. In October, the Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging will launch a series of community engagement opportunities, so stay tuned.

I have been thrilled to see the groundswell of work that already exists and look forward to synthesizing and integrating the University’s many effective diversity and inclusion efforts into a visible, innovative strategy for enhancing diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and belonging. I fundamentally believe that many of the challenges that we face in higher education relative to this topic have answers rooted in applied research. We must work together in the field to find them.

As I work to learn Harvard, I have and will continue to hear from many voices during this process. Both the contributions of groups and individuals have been essential in helping guide efforts across our Schools and Units that have yielded creative and successful outcomes in diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts thus far.

We will work as a community, purposefully moving over the course of the next year towards greater equity, diversity, and inclusion. And we will chart a pathway forward—together—building off of the excellent work of the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging. Working collectively in this process, we are capable of remarkable accomplishments.

Your insights, suggestions and feedback will be exceptionally valuable as we move forward together, and I hope you will seek me out over the course of this year. I also encourage each of you to sign up to receive updates from the Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging.

With this in mind, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the new academic year. And, for those who are new to our community, welcome to Harvard.

In community,

Sherri Ann Charleston
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer