(Left to right) Patrice Rankine, Jamelle Wilson, and Corinna Barrett Lain

Campus leaders offer commentaries on racial justice

June 19, 2020

University News

UR campus leaders have recently published commentaries on the effects of racial bias across higher education and in local communities.

Deans Patrice Rankine and Jamelle Wilson and Professor Corinna Barrett Lain shared insights on injustice, gaining new perspectives, and what actions can be taken. 

Rankine, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and professor of classics, penned “At a Loss for Words in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Rankine contributes a monthly column to the publication, focusing on issues in higher education leadership, including race in academia and national news conversations.

“Biases are, after all, the stuff of our societies,” Rankine wrote in the piece. “What we do once we are made aware of them is what matters most.”

In a recent email from the School of Arts & Sciences, Rankine wrote: “Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are all recipients — and perpetuators — of both racist and anti-racist behaviors and practices, and policies. Though not partisan, our challenges are those of the intellect and will. They require our best intentions, ideas, and action.”

Professor Lain is a legal historian and death penalty scholar. She wrote “What Made George Floyd’s Death Different? for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Outrage today can mean progress tomorrow,” Lain wrote, “but if past truly is prologue, that happens only if the power of white privilege is wielded to serve the cause of racial justice.”

Jamelle Wilson, dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, also authored a column for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In “Finding Our Way Forward,” Dean Wilson translates many of the insights she has long shared with the UR community into a broader context. Wilson acknowledges how challenging the past few weeks have been and offers hope and actionable change for the future.

“Commit to learning as much as you can about the experience of people who are not in your immediate circle, who don’t look like you, whose background is different from your own,” Wilson said.

Photo: (left to right) Patrice Rankine, Jamelle Wilson, and Corinna Barrett Lain



  • Terror and Abolition. Assistant professor of sociology Atiya Husain authored this piece in Boston Review.