“A recent study conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) found that college and  university presidents are still predominantly white and male. While 30% of top leadership roles were held by women in 2016, the percentage of presidents of color increased by only four percent since 2011 to 13%, rising to 17% in 2016 (Gagliardi et al., 2017). People of color continue to experience challenges in ascending to the most senior roles within institutions of higher education. 

Barriers facing people of color who seek and/or assume senior administrative roles are also the  result of the historical vestiges or legacies of discrimination that still exist within the American  higher education system (Gasman et al, 2013). The historical vestiges of discrimination refer to  the legacy of limited access and exclusion of racial minorities that exists at most PWIs (Hurtado  et al., 1998, 1999).” - Excerpts from the Academic Leadership Framing Paper, forthcoming. 


Seven years after the City of Flint, MI (under Governor Rick Snyder) changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the Flint River, loose ends continue to plague residents and decision-makers. Although Flint has largely fallen out of the spotlight, the demographic and economic trends behind the water crisis are increasingly relevant. In a post-COVID world, where priorities for urban, suburban, and rural life are predicted to twist, cities like Flint provide models and blueprints for how to overcome population shifts and avoid disaster. Flint Justice Partnership, a CSS-Sponsored UM Student Organization, is bringing the Flint water crisis back into the spotlight, working to strengthen inter-community ties, improve transparency in public health and environmental justice, and raise awareness.


In recent months, the term “reparations” has filtered back into the American (and occasionally international) vernacular, appearing on protest signs, news articles alike, and legislation alike. Despite its buzzword status, the word continues to make the general public uncomfortable, a relic of unfulfilled promises and violent retaliation. Part of this discomfort with the word stems from its lack of consolidated definition. What are “reparations”? By definition, “reparations” means “a repairing or being repaired; restoration to good condition”, “a making of amends; making up for a wrong or injury”, or “anything paid or done to make up for something else; compensation.” In the face of righting the wrongs of slavery, defining reparations becomes highly contentious, with proposals facing criticism from both opposition and like-minded proponents. 

For the ‘Just Futures’ initiative, this difficulty is seen as an opportunity. As a community-driven, place-based project, reparations are intended to take different forms across the nine sites. At Connecticut College in New London, CT, the team will look at reparations and its relation to immigration in the Northeast. On the opposite edge of the larger team’s boundaries, Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, will look at what reparations means to Native Americans and indigenous peoples of the Midwest and West. The outcomes for these two sites should be–and are encouraged to be–vastly different by prioritizing and serving their respective communities.


In both his response to the Chauvin verdict and his presentation for the TEDxWesleyanU event, associate director Dr. Alford A. Young, Jr., spoke about a different kind of work for the future–community-based. For his Wesleyan presentation, Dr. Young summarized his experiences listening to perceptions of civic duty. “Black men are too often presumed to be disinterested in politics and civic affairs. However, I have found that many are deeply expressive about such matters in social spaces. In barbershops and community institutions, they comment about how much they feel uninvited to—or unrecognized in—formal political arenas, and many choose not to vote or participate in formal political spheres.”

In response to what’s next in the wake of the Chauvin guilty verdict, Dr. Young prescribed “conversation–community-level conversation. I think it’s important for police departments across America to engage the public about the fact that a wrong-doing occurred.” Watch Dr. Young’s comments of the verdict here.