Message from Dean Michelle Williams

Dear Harvard Chan School Community,

I am reaching out to you in the wake of new executive orders issued by President Trump regarding immigration and visa policies. These new policies, which temporarily ban people from several Middle Eastern and African countries from entering the U.S., reduce the number of refugees to be admitted to the country in this fiscal year, and bar Syrian refugees altogether, have sent shockwaves through our community. Students, fellows, staff, research scientists, and faculty across the University are extremely concerned about how these policy changes will affect them, their families, their classmates, and the vulnerable people we serve around the globe.

As Meredith Rosenthal communicated earlier, for those of you wishing to stand in protest against the recent executive orders on immigration and in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, you can do so by joining the Copley Square rally (which begins at 1:00 PM this afternoon), organized by the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will open its doors at 11:00 AM for people to make signs and organize before the event. Representatives of the School will leave together for the protest at 12:30 PM.

We do not yet know the full ramifications of these policy changes, but I want to reaffirm our clear and unwavering support for the many international students and immigrants who form such a vital part of our community. I also want to affirm our commitment to serving refugee populations in Syria and elsewhere. I am in the midst of gathering the School’s leadership and we are working with the University’s leadership, the Harvard International Office, and the Harvard Office of Federal Relations to organize a response to the inhumane new policies announced on Friday.

We can and we must ensure that our School and the University continue to fight against bigotry and xenophobia in all their forms. We must work to create and preserve a safe and nurturing environment for our students, fellows, staff, research scientists and faculty. And we must continue to champion public health and higher education as vital means of engaging with the world and having a positive impact on populations globally—especially those who have been driven from their homes by war, natural disaster, and religious persecution.

We will provide more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, I want to make you aware of resources that are available to help:

  • Students may contact Stacey Herman in Student Services at 617-432-4703.
  • Faculty may contact Mahy El-Kouedi in Faculty Affairs at 617-432-1381. 
  • Staff may contact Linda Picard in Human Resources at 617-432-2719 or Harvard’s Employee Assistance Program for additional support and resources at 877-327-4278 (1-877-EAP-HARV). 

I also want to reiterate that it is not the jurisdiction, responsibility, or practice of the Harvard University Police Department to inquire about the immigration status of members of our community.

I am grateful to those who have reached out to express their concerns. It is a privilege to stand with such a deeply committed community in these turbulent times. 

With my best wishes,

Dean of the Faculty
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health