A Message to the SUNY Community During Black History Month from Chancellor King and SUNY Board of Trustees

February 1, 2023

Black History Month was created to celebrate and elevate the achievements of African Americans and their significant contributions to the foundation on which this country was built and the evolution of our democracy. From the visual arts and medicine to music and technology and everything in between, there is no realm where the impact of Black individuals – both prominent and unsung – has not been felt.

While we honor their memory and the sacrifices they made to advance equity and combat injustice, it is incumbent on all of us together to make right the inequities that still exist today impacting our friends, students, and neighbors. Too many barriers remain that hold back Black Americans and continue to inflict trauma. What happened to Tyre Nichols horrified us at our core. He was a son, a friend, a promising photographer, who today was laid to rest. We mourn his family’s loss.

Together, we can step up our resistance – the theme of this year's Black History Month from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In the tradition of the Abolitionists of the 19th century and the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, we must resist injustice and call on our nation to be ever more true to the promise of equality and democracy. We believe a well-rounded education must prepare all students to thrive in diverse workplaces and communities. We are committed to ensuring not only a student body reflective of New York's diversity, but diverse faculties and leadership teams across our 64 campuses. Only when young people of color see themselves properly represented in positions of leadership can they truly visualize what is possible for their own futures.

The power of SUNY is that we can be that safe environment where we can reflect on our history, have tough complex conversations, and prepare our next generation of leaders to push toward a more just future. Through education, we can be a source of comfort and healing.

Let’s continue to lead this conversation in our communities. Let’s continue to look at how we can further embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into everything that we do. Together we can do better to make sure everyone has a chance to succeed.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.

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Holly Liapis
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