Dean's Statement on the Death of George Floyd

June 2, 2020

As Dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, I write to express the collective pain and sorrow of our faculty, staff, and students at the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd. The disciplines of the Liberal Arts reflect a shared commitment to social justice, to respect for human dignity, and to our ethical and moral obligations to speak out against the systemic racism that permeates every aspect of our culture and society, from the criminal justice system, to healthcare, to political representation, and yes, to education as well. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the most recent names on too long of a list of African Americans who have been killed, the victims of racism and its perpetrators who all too often have not been held accountable for their acts of violence and hate, even when they are captured on camera and shared with the world. We must, as the hashtag movement suggests, "say their names," for to be silent in such moments is to be complicit.

As we acknowledge the right of individuals to engage in peaceful, lawful, nonviolent protest, we reaffirm our commitment to a socially just and equitable present and future. In his historic speech at the 1963 March on Washington, U.S. Representative and civil rights icon John Lewis powerfully spoke out against those who urged patience in the longstanding fight against racial injustice. Nearly six decades later, Lewis' words resonate now more than ever: "Wake up America! Wake up! For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient."

Part of that process involves confronting positions of privilege that maintain complicity within these inequitable systems that empower some and disenfranchise others. These are not easy conversations. Yet it is the collective goal of the McAnulty College to engage in solidarity and to collaborate on and off campus to achieve these goals in ways that support the diverse communities in which we live, work, and serve. In this way, we authentically honor the Spiritan charism of working with those on the margins so that we can all walk together as equals and allies. 

Dean Kris Blair