Dean's Message: Combatting Systemic Racism and Injustice

Jun 22 2020
By Cecilia Elena Rouse, Dean

Dear WWS Community,

Racism in the justice system and discrimination in the labor market and health care system are not new, but the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police, and the disparate impacts of Covid-19 and the economic crisis on black and brown communities have laid bare how racism permeates every facet of American life. The country is at an inflection point.

We are a policy school. Our mission calls us to dedicate ourselves to integrating world-class scholarship and a commitment to service in order to make a positive difference in the world. Therefore, I embrace President Eisgruber’s call today to think about the role Princeton can play in fighting racism and injustice at this critical moment.

I have spent my entire career thinking about these issues and working for change. As a black woman in a field where there are few of either, I have worked to shape economics into a field not solely represented by white men. I deeply believe that real diversity is critical for meaningful and effective policymaking. Only when leaders truly respect one another as equals and learn how to talk to each other rather than past each other can true progress be made.

To answer President Eisgruber’s call, I will be asking the School’s faculty, administrators, and students to join in the conversation about how our community can work to combat racism, injustice, and inequality. I believe we have already made progress, and acknowledge we need to go further. I am interested in asking hard questions about our program and seeking creative ways to bring new insights to our curriculum and scholarship. This will take time, thoughtfulness, analysis, and engagement from all our constituencies.

This is a moment of reckoning for the United States. We are a diverse community, but we all agree that true equality is a foundational value of our country and our School. That is not debatable. We may not always agree on the most effective ways to promote change, but I know we can work together to achieve measures that will address the deeply harmful divisions and injustices in our country. I know our policy school is up to the task. Our School, University, and the communities our alumni will ultimately serve will be better for it.


Cecilia Elena Rouse
Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst
Professor in the Economics of Education