Message to the Woodruff School Community

Dear Woodruff School Family,

Samuel Graham, School ChairI consider myself fortunate to be the chair of the best Mechanical Engineering program in the country. The students, staff, and faculty that I work with daily are outstanding. I could not be prouder of your accomplishments. We are a school that believes in academic excellence and that all members are valued, without exception. While we are not perfect in this regard, we are committed to improving and making the Woodruff School a place where all people can achieve their goals at the highest levels and feel welcomed.

I must admit that recent events have weighed heavily on me, and I struggle with what I should say to you as I write this. The issues that we are seeing play out live before us are bigger than our school and has implications for us all. In America, racism has been a reality impacting the lives of African Americans and people of color, without question. Some members of our school carry experiences, fears, and other feelings that others do not have to confront and deal with. We live in a society that holds to the ideal that justice is blind, which is noble. However, for some people, the path to justice is paired with bias. We should not accept this. We can and must do better. 

I do not know your personal experiences and what you are going through right now. I realize that some of you are moving forward as usual, while others are having a hard time coming to work or attending class today. If you are struggling with the current situation, I understand. I have my own worries as I think about my family and some of my close friends. As a father of a college sophomore and high school senior, I worry about them and the struggles they have to face. I don’t proclaim to have the answers for you. If you wish to talk, I am open to hearing from you and creating a space for dialogue. Some of you may want to speak out but are afraid of being misunderstood. I encourage you to find your voice because your voice is needed. For those that need more time to process things, take the time that you need.

I am committed to working with you to ensure that our school is a place where the contributions of all people are respected and that our contributions impact society in multiple ways. If we are committed to truly making a difference, we have the power to start the process that will finally bring about changes that we all know are needed.  

Take care.


Samuel Graham
Eugene C. Gwaltney, Jr. Chair