Condemnation of Hatred and Bigotry Message, August 2017
Dear Members of the UIS Community,
As we continue preparations during the next few days to welcome our students, faculty and staff for the 2017-18 academic year, what should be happy anticipation has been sobered by horrific violence that took place last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia on and near the University of Virginia campus – violence in the name of hatred and bigotry. You have already received a statement responding to these events from President Killeen and the three University of Illinois chancellors. As your Chancellor, I stand firmly behind those sentiments; but with this message, I write to add a brief personal thought specific to our UIS community.
Distinct from any other campus in the country, UIS resides in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln – whose spirit (as poet Vachel Lindsay famously said) is still “… among us as in times before”. We take pride in our beautiful Lincoln sculpture, which serves as a daily reminder of an American president who led the country through its greatest moral and political crisis – preserving the Union and putting an end to slavery. The UIS reputation for “Leadership lived” is another reminder of Lincoln’s leadership – as well as of the commitment we make to our students to prepare them for a life of leadership and impact.
As Lincoln did more than 150 years ago, we must reject the ideas and ideals being espoused by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others whose violent words and actions pose a profound threat to a civil society and to the future of our democracy. We must stand together as a united academic community to lead as Lincoln did, rejecting hatred in any form and embracing instead our institution’s vision “… to enrich individual lives and make a difference in the world.”
As we launch the academic year during the next few weeks, I hope you will join me in this commitment.