Like many of you, I have struggled to process the senseless, heartbreaking killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. It is hard not to see a pattern of violence against black people when this tragic death comes on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting right here in Georgia, Breonna Taylor’s in Kentucky, and so many others before them across our country. I acknowledge the pain many members of our community are feeling, and I stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters and all people of goodwill, as we find a path forward.

There is much soul-searching we need to do as a society. We all share in the responsibility to deliver on our foundational belief that all people are created equal and are endowed with the same fundamental rights. While we demand change from those with the power to enact it, we must also ask what each of us can do to make good on that promise. And that includes all of us at Georgia Tech.

For the past few months, we have worked together on a new vision of inclusion, public service, and impact. That vision requires that we open the doors of opportunity to more people of underrepresented backgrounds. That we reduce barriers of access that still persist and that have nothing to do with talent. That we reject the status quo and do better. That we listen to and work with our students to create a more inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds can learn and grow. That we educate students who can think critically about the society we live in and can lead us to a better place.

As scholars and researchers, we need to ask ourselves how the science and technology we advance and the theories and solutions we propose help all of us live better lives. As alumni and leaders in business and society, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of equal opportunity, inclusivity, and impact.

Last September, we had the privilege to meet, listen to, and honor the first four African American students in the Institute’s history. That day helped me better appreciate our long struggle to become more just and inclusive — and how, by being more just and inclusive, we have become much stronger. Today, we must reflect on how much further we have to go.

I encourage all of us at Georgia Tech to be true to our motto of Progress and Service, to deliver on our mission to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. Those aren’t just words on a page. We have a responsibility to our campus community, to our local community, and to our nation to help change our world for the better. We have a responsibility to empower and include more people, backgrounds, and perspectives in the process.