This past spring semester was one of the most challenging semesters we had ever experienced. Few of us had ever encountered a crisis that altered our lives like COVID-19. After we had navigated through that semester, as the pandemic still hovered over our lives, we were once again brought face-to-face with the horrid reality of the systemic racism and violence that continues to plague our nation.
Eventually, perhaps sooner than we think, a vaccine will be developed, produced, and distributed to inoculate us against the coronavirus. But there is no quick-injection-fix to inoculate ourselves against systemic racism. There are only our efforts to effect change.
As President, I must and will do everything in my power to lay the groundwork for systemic change in all realms of the institution, and the work will happen immediately.
We will reimagine the University in six domains—academics; training, learning, and development; campus, climate, and culture; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; local, national, and global impact; and policies and procedures—to meet the needs of our community and create systemic change at Arcadia.
Time is not on our side. Every moment we wait means another life may be lost. The pressing questions for Arcadia are: How will we mobilize around these issues even more profoundly than we already are on a local, national, and global scale? How will we live up to our mission and vision as an institution that strives to be socially just? What does it mean to reimagine our University and inspire radical change?
The misfortune of COVID-19 was not and will not be shared equally among our stakeholders; identities including, but not limited to, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, sexual violence survivors, and citizenship status could make a significant difference in the ramifications of the virus. In terms of the virus of racism, it’s clear upon whom the burden of that falls — and will continue to fall, unless each of us acts.
I want to stress to our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members, that I am with you. We have far to go as a community of practice, but in time, we will become a reflection of the world that we want to live in. It is my expectation that our leadership, with the support of the community, will have made significant progress by the end of the fall semester. I promise to provide frequent updates on all of these initiatives, including more definitive timelines, with a community-wide UKnighted “check us” meeting in October.
More than 25 years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I fought for the same issues many of our students, alumni, and community members are advocating for today. I continue to share these frustrations and fight for these issues, though now I am in a position to do even more. With your support, I plan to show up for our community to the best of my ability.
We are...forever, Arcadia Knights and #ArcadiaStrong.