Dear University Community,
Tuesday, for the 58th time in our country’s history, we followed a process defined in our Constitution to elect a new president to office, thus beginning a leadership transition that is a hallmark of our democracy. However, this election feels different. It followed a long and intensely acrimonious campaign that exposed deep divisions in our country. While fierce debate and profound differences are part of all campaigns, this one was more negative, personal and polarizing than any in recent memory. And many of us have experienced post-election reactions that were powerfully personal and emotional.
I had a chance to walk around campus yesterday and talk to students, faculty and staff. I saw our community members supporting one another through engagement, companionship and dialog (and even a few group hugs). For some, this is a difficult time, and the University has many resources available to you, should you need them.
As individuals, our role is not limited to selecting new leadership. Values and beliefs don’t disappear with the act of voting. The post-election period is one of change. For the government, it begins a time of transition to a new administration and Congress. For us, it marks a time of transition from voters to citizens who have a role in our democratic process and who must re-engage in the shared task of addressing the challenges and opportunities we face as a country. This is a beginning, not an end.
Not everything is in transition. Our University was founded before the U.S. Constitution was written, and our purpose—to improve human lives and our society through knowledge—is as important today as it ever was. Learning and discovery are made possible through values of respect, inclusion, integrity and freedom of expression. This is why we remain committed to these values and why supporting diversity and an inclusive environment are vital priorities for our University. I believe that what our country needs most during this time of change is precisely what we can best offer: an ability to work together to deepen our understanding of critical problems and an ability to work together to develop solutions to these very problems.