PAFA Board Action Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

Today PAFA Board’s Executive Committee announced the creation of a special committee to recommend changes that will ensure that PAFA is a truly diverse and inclusive learning environment. The Board acknowledges that to accomplish this, we must engage in tough conversations and learn from honest feedback from our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.  

We unequivocally believe that Black Lives Matter. The board firmly stands with PAFA’s June 1 statement that condemns racial injustice and discrimination of any kind, just as we lament that pervasive systems of racial oppression have existed since our nation’s founding and persist in the present day. 

“We recognize there are serious concerns at PAFA. And I am disappointed that we have not shown our students that we live our core values and for that, the board accepts full responsibility,” said PAFA Board Chair Kevin Donohoe. “We can and will do better. Our core values of community, traditions, stewardship, diversity & inclusion are not just words, they are essential to the mission that we live every day.” 

The board remains committed to PAFA’s senior leadership team led by David Brigham. At this time of urgency, the board is committed to working in close partnership with them to accelerate the implementation process for the needed change.  

This effort will be led by trustee and officer of the Board Reginald M. Browne. Additional committee members will be immediately selected by Browne and Donohoe as the next step in this effort. The committee will build upon the findings of the Belonging Task Force, which was established in its current strategic plan, to advance diversity and inclusion at PAFA.  The committee will recommend the optimal strategy and actions to be taken to the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees for approval and prompt implementation by the administration. 

Committee chair Browne said, “As a business leader and father of two college seniors, I have an obligation to address unjust systems and promote fairness, especially when it comes to our young people. Systemic racism, conscious or unconscious, has no place in our environment of creative expression and instruction or in our workplace,'' said Reginald M. Browne. “At the end of this process, I am confident that PAFA will be the safe place for having difficult conversations about the American story and for strengthening our city’s and nation’s fabric by weaving together all of its threads into a unified whole.”

The Board of Trustees, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.