Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Principles of educational diversity, equity, and inclusion were at the heart of St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s mission when it was founded in 1950.

Our founder, the Rev. Mother Ruth, envisioned St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s as a school that would reflect the diversity of New York City and would unite children and families from all backgrounds to learn from one another and about one another, tearing down the walls and divisions that separate people of different cultures, creeds, and classes.

Mother Ruth learned from experience the harm done by discrimination. As a biracial woman from Harlem, she faced rejection when pursuing her religious vocation in the United States. Mother Ruth was determined to build a school that reflected the rich diversity of its city and utilize this diversity as one of its greatest strengths. Enrolling children from different racial, economic, and religious backgrounds, Mother Ruth countered the exclusive tradition that defined independent schools at that time. 

For nearly 70 years, St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s has endeavored to fulfill and expand Mother Ruth’s inclusive mission, which recognizes the intrinsic value that each student, teacher, and parent brings to the school community: “We believe that all creation is sacred; each member of the school community is respected as a unique individual.” Additionally, the mission states, “We strive to create an educational community that reflects unity in diversity: a unity of purpose and shared values among a population diverse in race, culture, and religious beliefs.”

St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s remains committed to enrolling a diverse community and equitably serving its students, families, and faculty through its academic and curricular programs, and we have expanded upon our founder’s original definition of diversity to reflect a more comprehensive understanding of identity, which goes beyond race and includes ability, gender, and sexual orientation. This commitment requires us to be conscious about all the ways in which an individual constructs identity, and we joyfully embrace our vital role in helping students to feel fully themselves as they grow and develop. 

My fellow trustees are deeply committed to our students and faculty—and to ensuring, as Mother Ruth intended, that access to an outstanding education should not be limited to one socio-economic class of children, or one race, creed, learning style, or family composition. They know, as she did, that the inclusive educational community here at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s is transformative, not just for those of us who are part of it but for everyone whom we encounter. Our graduates become the kinds of leaders so sorely needed in the world today—those who work hard and play fair, who create with passion, who act with compassion, who dream, and who achieve.
The Rev. Kathleen Liles, Chair, Board of Trustees