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Race & Reconciliation Initiative
Texas Guards being reviewed by Gen. Fitzhugh Lee and Col. Alexander Easley in front of the Main Building on TCU’s Waco campus around 1899. Photo: TCU Special Collections

TCU announces formation and activation of recently commissioned historical initiative

August 13, 2020

Texas Christian University’s recently announced initiative to study the university’s historical connection to racism, slavery and the Confederacy has been officially named the Race and Reconciliation Initiative (RRI). Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, appointed Frederick Gooding, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor of African American Studies in the John V. Roach Honors College, chair of the initiative. The initiative was commissioned by Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. and Board of Trustees Chair Mark L. Johnson and has the unanimous support of TCU’s entire Board.

“This scholarly journey into our past will both enlighten and provide extensive institutional knowledge from which to build our preferred future of a more diverse and welcoming campus,” said Dahlberg. “We will hear, learn and discover the more nuanced and perhaps complicated aspects of our history that might not have been frequently shared or even acknowledged.” 

The initiative will be led by a 15-member university academic team that will undertake a rigorous self-examination to reflect on the institution, its founders, traditions, and named structures on campus as they relate to slavery, the Confederacy and its legacies. This inquiry will draw upon existing grassroots efforts, such as the TCU Portrait Project, the Indigenous Peoples historic marker, Intersectionality Month and other activities that have helped document and reveal contemporary and historic patterns of racism and racial inequality at TCU. The academic endeavor, which begins during the fall semester, will span many years with the first year of research focusing primarily on Black Americans and TCU’s experiences with racism, slavery and the Confederacy.

“Our study of TCU’s history will provide critical perspective, deepen understanding and result in recommendations for action and healing,” said Gooding. “The historical research previously conducted by campus members who worked on related projects for a number of years provides a firm foundation for us to continue this necessary work. We have great expectations that this initiative will continue to move us all forward and toward reconciliation.”

Regular updates, timelines, event information and opportunities for campus members to participate and engage in dialogue regarding TCU’s past, present and future, will be housed on the RRI web page. RRI also will immediately open channels of communication with the broader TCU community through the placement of signage next to the statue of Addison and Randolph Clark, TCU’s founders, both to signal the start of the initiative and to encourage continued community engagement.

TCU becomes the second university in Texas to join the Universities Studying Slavery consortium, thereby aligning itself with numerous other universities nationally and internationally to address contemporary issues, such as race and inequity in higher education, and the complicated legacies of slavery on campuses, in communities, and in our world.

A final report and recommendations from the first year of study will include modeling how to explore other identities in the university’s shared history.

Race and Reconciliation Initiative Core Committee Members:

  • Tosin Alao, Undergraduate Student Representative
  • Susan E. Anderson, Ed.D., College of Education 
  • Jean Marie Brown, M.S., Journalism
  • Leslie Ekpe, M.A., M.B.A., Graduate Student Representative
  • Alan Gallay, Ph.D., History
  • Frederick Gooding, Jr., Ph.D., John V. Roach Honors College
  • Lynn Hampton, Ph.D., John V. Roach Honors College
  • Clifford E. Harrell, Athletics
  • Bryan King, M.B.A., TCU Board of Trustees
  • Scott Kurashige, Ph.D., Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Jacque Lambiase, Ph.D., Strategic Communications
  • Adam W. McKinney, M.F.A., Dance
  • Trung Nguyen, Ed.D., Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Sarah Robbins, Ph.D., English
  • Tracy Renee Williams, M.S., TCU Board of Trustees and President, TCU National Alumni Board

Race and Reconciliation Ex-Officio Members:

  • Holly Ellman, Marketing and Communication
  • Alex Hidalgo, Ph.D., History
  • Mary Saffell, M.L.S., Mary Couts Burnett Library
  • Claire Sanders, Ph.D., History and Office of the Provost
  • Karen Steele, Ph.D., English and Office of the Provost
  • Tracy Syler-Jones, M.B.A., Marketing and Communication
  • Aisha Torrey-Sawyer, M.Ed., Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Graduate Research Assistant:

  • Marcellis Perkins, College of Education

TCU’s DEI efforts

TCU continues in its efforts to build a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy to align with core values and create a campus culture where all are respected and connected. Fulfilling TCU’s mission to develop ethical leaders and critical thinkers in a global community depends on the university’s ability to attract and retain students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds who thrive in our community. More information about TCU’s DEI efforts can be found here and on the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion web page.