A Statement from John Poole, Director of the School of Theatre, and the Faculty of the School
of Theatre to the School of Theatre Community, and in particular, to our Students of Color:
For all of you who have courageously shared your passion, anger, fear and frustration over the
past few days via email, I and the School of Theatre want to express our shared horror over the
tragic killing of George Floyd. Your grief and righteous anger have transformed into a global
movement calling for real criminal justice reform and societal change, and closer to home,
change in every aspect of our theatre culture.
Your voices have had a profound effect on the School of Theatre faculty and staff. Much of
what we have been reading about white privilege and white supremacy reflects the inadequacy
of action in this country and our own inadequate action in our school. You have been
demanding a departure from the ways of the past and your resolve will help us embark on a
new path. We are ready to stand with you in solidarity.
Right now, the School of Theatre faculty and staff are engaging in substantive conversations on
how we can do better and we have already begun to take action based on our commitment to
As you know, we have recently concluded several searches resulting in the hire of two faculty of
color. They will be joining us this August. Our new Director of the School of Theatre, Natalie
Sowell, is the first African American department chair in our almost 100-year history. We also
welcome Mya Brown as our new Acting, Directing, and Generalist professor. But we do not
expect either Natalie or Mya to do everything – this is work that we must all be committed to
Many of you know and have worked with Kelvin Dinkins, Jr. We look forward to welcoming him
back for another visit next year as we take what we have learned from his visits to the next
level. After conducting two workshops, Kelvin spoke to me of your deep sense of pain and
isolation, of not feeling a sense of belonging in our culture, but mostly of not feeling heard. Out
of those workshops and working with the Scaffolding Change Steering Committee, we began to
articulate a path forward:
- Work with student and campus organizations as well as with the Racial Equality
Institute (located here in Greensboro) to help faculty and staff work to undo systemic
racism in our program. https://www.racialequityinstitute.com/
- Draft a statement of shared values with students by which we conduct ourselves in
class, studio, and labs. This work will lead us to also draft a diversity statement, one that
reflects the values to which we aspire, and ones that we will actively practice.
- Develop an ongoing speaker series addressing issues related to race, sex, gender.
- Review the model by which our production seasons are selected and explore new
ways to cultivate student investment in that process.
- Adopt a common read in order to raise the consciousness of faculty, staff and
students. Based on the common read, establish weekly meetings in support of making
- Formulate a co-sponsored series of moderated conversations with the Scaffolding
Change Steering Committee to begin before the start of the fall semester between
students, faculty, staff and administrators to listen, learn and expand on action items for
Know this, the School of Theatre is on the precipice of real transformative change. We are
genuinely excited to be welcoming Natalie Sowell this August as our new Director and I, along
with my colleagues, are committed to working closely with her and with you. She will need all
of our support if she, and we, are to succeed.
We are grateful for your reasoned and righteous passion. We acknowledge that we, like most
white people in this country, need to learn from our mistakes. With open hearts and open
minds, no matter how difficult the path, we will write a new chapter in which we are all
represented, a chapter of which all can be proud.
The Faculty and Staff of the School of Theatre