Dear Members of the DCE Community,

I write today to add my voice to the messages from President Larry Bacow and Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay on the release of the University’s report Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery. Since 2019, Committee Chair Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, committee members, researchers, and staff have worked tirelessly on this project. The report reveals many distressing truths about the University and its connections to slavery, dating back to its founding.

The report contains shocking stories about our past. Personally, it was painful to read explicitly how Harvard is linked to the institution of slavery. Yet, acknowledging Harvard’s painful past is an important step in our path forward.

I am still processing the information in the report myself and know that I will need more time to fully reflect on it. I encourage you to read the findings at a time that makes sense for you. Our DCE and FAS communities will hold a number of events in the coming months to discuss the report and help process the findings.

The University’s commitment to restorative justice is one which I enthusiastically support and welcome. As the recommendations outlined in the report move forward, I will look for ways in which DCE can help the University achieve its goals.

I invite all members of our community to join the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging on Thursday, April 28, 12:00pm,  for a virtual Community Gathering reflecting on the report.  Register for the Community Conversation here.

The report’s release represents an essential step in a very long reckoning that we will address together. While difficult to process, I hope that the end result is a deeper understanding and unwavering commitment to social justice, fairness and inclusion for all members of our community. While we cannot rewrite Harvard’s past, we can author its future together.


Nancy J. Coleman
Dean, Harvard Division of Continuing Education and University Extension