Mines Staff

Mines President Paul C. Johnson: The challenge before us

Dear Mines Community, 

For the past week, the news has been dominated by the tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, civil unrest and destruction. It has been difficult to watch and to process—the wrongness of the death, the intense anger and emotion of the protestors and the widely varying responses of our elected leaders. 

Events like this and others over the past few years force us to face the uncomfortable reality that racism and bias are prevalent and persistent. They also provide the impetus for us, as individuals and the Mines community, to reflect on who we are, what we stand for and what we should do going forward.  

We are a caring community that has embraced and is working toward achieving the aspirations expressed in our strategic plan for diversity, inclusion and access. We naturally feel for victims of racism and bias, we hurt when members of our community are hurt and we have pledged to create a community that supports the education and careers of students, staff and faculty from all backgrounds.

Our Achilles heel is that many of us do not understand with depth the issues at play today. Most of us do not come from backgrounds where we have had to endure racism—either based on the color of our skin or our country of origin. This can make us blind to our biases and unable to see the actions we need to take to support the success of all members of our community. How many of us can imagine being raised with a deep-seated fear of law enforcement personnel or being concerned for our life when going out for a run? That is reality for some members of our community.  

In response to current events, we wanted to do something more than just issue a campus note that expresses outrage or rejects persistent and systemic racism and promises a better future. We decided instead to use this opportunity to challenge ourselves as campus leaders and all of you as community members to learn how to be more effective advocates and allies for those who experience racism and to develop a deeper understanding of the law enforcement community.

Our Mines DI&A team will follow up with our plan for the former—they already have a list of resources for you to learn more, ways for us to take meaningful action and opportunities for new campus programming. Our Mines Police Department is taking the lead on the second topic. They will be sending an email telling us a little about themselves, their training and programs and the town hall-style discussion they envision that includes participants from our police department and local law enforcement professionals from surrounding communities. 

In the last few months, we have seen how individual and collective action can flatten curves and change outcomes. As we have faced the COVID-19 pandemic, we have become adept at putting aside our own self-interests and acted on behalf of our neighbors and larger society. We have spent hours educating ourselves about a menacing threat and using that information to adjust both our actions and our thinking. We can do the same thing, climbing together, as we progress toward creating the community we aspire to have at Mines.  

And, as always, we are interested in your thoughts and suggestions.

Stay well and stay safe, Orediggers,

Paul C. Johnson, President and Professor
Amy Landis, Professor and Presidential Faculty Fellow for Access, Attainment and Diversity
Dan Fox, Vice President of Student Life
Dustin Olson, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety
Rick Holz, Provost and Professor
Kirsten Volpi, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer


Mines Staff

About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.