Each month I plan to highlight one of the College’s core values. This month, I think it’s appropriate to talk about community.
It’s been four months since Charleston was rocked by the tragic and horrific shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church during which we lost one of our own employees – Cynthia Hurd, a longtime librarian and a beloved member of our campus community.
The campus and Charleston communities responded in an uncommon manner in the aftermath of this heartbreaking event. All of Charleston came together in unity and grace to support the victims’ families and support each other as we grieved and began the healing process.
This summer reminded us all that the fabric of Charleston is stronger than any horrible act of violence. No, we cannot and will not be torn apart. We – the people of Charleston – are the beating heart of this city. And that heart is what makes our place so powerful.
It is evident that the cameras and media that descended on Charleston in the aftermath of the senseless violence are now long gone, as we knew they would be; the spotlight has shifted elsewhere. But here in Charleston and at the College, we diligently work to ensure goodness and light emerge from the hateful and dark act that occurred at Mother Emanuel.
The College will continue to be a place where everyone can come together to heal and a place for dialogue in our community. The College was founded more than two centuries ago to serve the needs of the community, and we will continue to do so.
The College will always be a place where everyone can have frank discussions about race, culture and differences. Because these are things we believe in and highly value at the College.
I had the opportunity to speak at the Advancing Diversity and Inclusion: Building Successful Organizations and Communities event at the North Campus on September 25. The room was packed full of diverse people who came together to discuss the ongoing challenge of translating diversity into a core organizational and community strength and how to better manage human differences in the workplace. It was a wonderful day of dialogue that focused on problems and addressed possible solutions to affect real and lasting change. I was pleased to have a role in this event and to listen to several different people explain their thoughts on the day’s theme. I firmly believe if we can find a way to see ourselves in each other, we can and will build better, stronger workplaces and a more tolerant and inclusive country.
I am pleased that numerous events have taken place, are scheduled or are being organized by our faculty, staff and students regarding how we move forward as an institution and a community. I’m proud that many of us on campus have reaffirmed our commitment to Charleston and to enacting substantive change that reflects the society we want to live in and leave for those who come after us.