During my time as president, I have attempted to respond to situations on campus as quickly as possible so that everyone understands the position of the university. When events have transpired on other campuses or in other parts of the country, it has been my practice not to respond publicly.
During the past weeks and months, racially charged situations and tragic deaths have occurred across the U.S. that have been troubling and disturbing – including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper and most recently George Floyd. We are now witnessing protests in cities across the U.S., some of which have been marked by violence.
We have seen in recent days how this has touched Springfield and the Missouri State campus as we witness civil protests taking place across the city.
We have also recently experienced on our own campus the impact of racially charged posts on social media made by incoming freshmen. I will address these social media posts separately in a communication on Tuesday.
When faced with difficult situations like these, we frequently remind one another of Missouri State’s public affairs mission. The three pillars of our public affairs mission – ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement – form our very identity as an institution.
These are not just words or platitudes. These are ideals that we work to instill in our students by incorporating them in academic coursework and service-learning requirements.
Racism is abhorrent and wrong. It is inconsistent with the values we embrace and try to model. We condemn it in all its insidious forms, and it is not welcome at Missouri State.
Racism is deeply rooted in our country, and I think we can all agree it won’t be eliminated overnight. This is work that requires a sustained, long-term commitment, and that is where the pillars of public affairs come into play.
Many students arrive on the Missouri State campus with little exposure to cultural differences. Through our public affairs mission, we work to instill in them the value and meaning of diversity of thought and culture that we hope our students will continue to develop after they graduate.
I am saddened and appalled by the tragic deaths we have seen over the last weeks and months. Our goal as a university is to create a safe learning environment for all of our students that is free of racism and threats. We have partnered with the city of Springfield to expand that environment beyond the campus boundaries.
Our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment is and must remain a top priority. Toward that end, we will continue to focus on recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty and staff. We will also continue to educate our campus constituents about cultural consciousness, and work to ensure that diverse viewpoints and perspectives are heard.
That being said, our past efforts aren’t enough. Our work is not complete. Eliminating the scourge of racism will require all of us, working together, and putting the ideals of our public affairs mission into practice. Together, we can make a difference.
Thank you for all you do for Missouri State.
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