Dear Schmid Community,

Over the past week, I have ended my communications to all of you with: “Black lives matter. Black students matter. Black faculty matter. Black staff matter. Black alumni matter. Please know that I see you, and I value you. Thank you for being part of the Schmid community.”  These words were – and are – genuine. But, words are easy.

I have been heartened to see specific plans to continue the hard work needed to move Chapman forward from my colleagues in Dodge College and Wilkinson College. I am proud of Schmid’s commitment to our Black scientists, but I know we can – and need to – do more.  In a few weeks, Schmid College will welcome a new Dean, and I promise to work with our new leadership team to prioritize equity and inclusion initiatives in the college. We owe it to all of you to build a plan to do better. But, again, words are easy.

As I return to my role as a faculty member of Environmental Science & Policy, I can not tell you what is next for Schmid.  But, I can promise that as a person with privilege and institutional power, I will do better.  Specifically:

  • I will ensure that a majority of primary literature in my ENV330 course will be from research teams headed by scientists of color and that a majority of speakers in my ENV205 Seminar Series will be people of color.
  • The Environmental Science & Policy major will offer, for the first time, a course on Environmental Justice.
  • Before the start of the Fall semester, I will read “How To Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. I will continue to learn to be a better teacher and a better person. I welcome anyone that wants to discuss this reading to reach out to me directly.
  • I have already made a donation to Outdoor Afro (inspired by Environmental Science & Policy alumna @greengirlleah). I will ask my kids to match this donation to groups of their choosing (the list provided by Chapman University is a fine starting point for them to do their research). I will talk about my choice to give and will ask them to talk about theirs.

This is not enough. But it is more than words, and that seems like a good place to start. I welcome additional opportunities to engage with you as students and members of the broader Chapman community to explore the work of anti-racism from a personal and institutional standpoint. I commit to learning more and taking more action. Thank you for your honest feedback and for inviting me to do better.

Black lives matter.


Jason K. Keller, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of Schmid College of Science & Technology