Greetings from the Circle, where students are enjoying the sunshine of spring term and finding their balance between the normal daily routine and the reality of pandemic protocols.
Amidst the urgent distraction of COVID, we continue with resolve and determination to address the imperative for visible and experienced inclusion at Groton—and to analyze how we can enhance and reinforce diversity, inclusion, and belonging on the Groton Circle. The Board of Trustees is fully committed to upholding these values and is finalizing a new strategic plan, the first in ten years, which focuses on goals of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
We have no intention of stopping this march toward what is fair and right, knowing well that the journey is long. We look forward to updating you periodically on the strategic plan and other incremental progress toward building a climate and culture that is inclusive, in a school that prioritizes action over rhetoric.
Please consider the following updates as points on a continuum, with more to come.
Temba T. Maqubela
Benjamin N. Pyne ’77, P’12, ’15
President, Board of Trustees
Belonging is a key theme of the Board of Trustees' new five-year strategic plan, which will address multiple facets of inclusion at the school, from affordability and curricula to student well-being and community outreach. We will provide a full report when the board completes and adopts the plan.
Of students newly enrolled for
2021–22 self-identify as Black or Latinx (increased from 17% in
2013–14), including those who are
bi-racial and multi-racial. This reflects a trend: those self-identifying as Black or Latinx represented 22% of newly enrolled students in 2020–21 and 21% in 2019–20.
Black students were elected senior or house prefect, the highest leadership positions, from 2014–22. Our 2021–22 prefects, chosen for their outstanding leadership skills, illustrate the student body's inclusive outlook: 2 newly elected prefects are Black students, 1 is white, and 1 is Asian-American. Five Black students held lead prefect positions from 2005–13.
Of 41 Inclusion Scholars from 2013–22, 12 are white, 13 are Black, 10 are Asian or Asian American, and 6 are Latinx. Inclusion Scholars are chosen based on their likelihood to further both the spirit of inclusion on campus and Groton’s legacy of service in the world.
The ongoing work of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee—formed with faculty and trustees in 2012 and adding students in 2014—led to the creation of the Curricular Working Group (CWG) and the Residential Working Group (RWG) last summer.
The CWG is evaluating voices and perspectives taught, methods used, and classroom environments created. The RWG focuses on fostering a sense of belonging for all students and organizes discussion-based community gatherings.
Approximately 30 new courses have been added in the past 5 years. Of those, 16 focus on underrepresented groups, including Black women, Native Americans, and the LGBTQ community. Examples include Racism and Genocide, Islamic Ethics, Breaking Down the Binary: Queer Lit, Women Writing about Women, and Theater of the Oppressed.
Diversity & Inclusion Community Gatherings are generating conversation on difficult topics this year. So far, students and faculty have gathered in small groups for 8 discussions, based on TED talks, documentaries, and other media. The final gathering this spring will focus on the Asian experience and the history of Asian persecution. Past years typically had 2 diversity-
oriented all-school gatherings,
plus MLK programming.
Last fall, Board of Trustees Vice President Gary C. Hill ’83 embarked on a process to talk to 100% of Black-identifying Groton alumni. The goal, according to Gary: "to discuss our experiences and elevate our voices, share our insights, create a database for ongoing connection, and determine how the Groton community can create a greater sense of belonging for Black alumni and students." Black-identifying alumni who would like to share their voices are encouraged to email Gary.
Sixth Formers did leadership training with Jessy Molina, focusing on inclusive leadership and facilitating dialogue.
Hours of faculty workshops focused on belonging, with Liza Talusan (over 3 days before school and again in February) and Matthew Kay (in January), provoked discussion and increased awareness.
Groton continues its focus on improving diversity in faculty recruitment, in the student experience, and on the Board of Trustees.
Of classroom teachers—18 of 68—will be people of color in 2021–22. Ten are Black or Latinx, and 8 are Asian. Seven of 8 academic department heads and 5 of 9 senior administrators are women. In 2015–16, 19% of faculty were people of color.
Of Groton trustees are people of color, more than double the number 10 years ago. Women on the board also doubled. Four current trustees are Black and 3 are Asian. Of 4 board officers, 2 are Black.
Major board committees—Finance, Investment, and the Committee on Trustees—are chaired by women (including a Black woman leading Finance).
Spurred by a student initiative, 4 new busts will be added to the Schoolroom this spring (of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt).
The Wanda C. Hill House, part of the new Gardner Village faculty residences, is the first building named for a person of color in Groton’s history.