As one of the top performing academic units at the University of Houston, it is our responsibility to lead by example and share our voice in taking a stand against the injustices within our community. Our college joins our city in the mourning of Houston's own, Mr. George Floyd, along with the countless others who have felt the wide-reaching effects of systemic racism in our country.
The last few weeks have sparked a great deal of pain and suffering, not just in our city, but all over the world. We too must raise our voices and call for change. This violence against the Black community did not begin a few weeks ago, it has been long ingrained in our society, which is perhaps the most painful acknowledgement of them all. And additionally, those responsible are not only the ones to commit these heinous acts of violence, but also those who have failed to speak out.
The harsh reality is that Emmitt Till, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and countless others did not have to die. If we had committed to change long ago, these tragedies would have never happened. Every time we look away, make excuses, or stay silent, we are allowing for the continued spread of racism and domestic terrorism. It is not enough to condemn the police officer who brutally took George Floyd's life. We must look for ways we can induce meaningful change. All lives cannot matter until Black lives matter.
The Cullen College of Engineering prides itself in respecting all persons, and there will be zero tolerance of the mistreatment of students, faculty or staff. It is unfortunate that I even have to make such a statement, but it is our reality, and any unjust treatment within our community will be met with swift and definitive action.
I will be forming a taskforce in the coming days in accordance with President Khator's university-wide call to action. It is well past time that we have meaningful conversations about how to heal and move forward. I challenge you all to self reflect and discuss ways we as a college can contribute to making valuable progress in our society. Now is the time to show passion, courage, strength and capacity for change.
My prayers are with the Floyd family as they mourn of their own who was taken much too soon. I also pray for the Black community's suffering, along with the injustices and mistreatments of all minority groups. Let us reflect and remember how much further we must go and the work we still must do. Let it be known that today marks a turning point for our college. Today, we begin to make change.
Joseph W. Tedesco, Ph.D., P.E., F. ASCE
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean
Cullen College of Engineering