To the faculty, staff, and students of Arts & Sciences:
We recently conducted our third Day of Discovery and Dialogue, and the university-wide discussion gave me, as well as many members of our community, time and space to reflect on our nation’s long and ongoing struggle with inequality and injustice. From the internment of Japanese citizens at the onset of World War II, to the civic turmoil following Michael Brown’s death, to the recent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, our past and present hold heart-breaking reminders of the divides that permeate our country.
Following the Day of Discovery, I know that faculty, staff, and students across our university continue to have important discussions on these topics. To add to the conversation, as your dean I would like to emphasize two points.
First, I have heard troubling stories about members of our community who no longer feel safe to travel or even to study, teach, and publish on various topics. Above all else, our scholarly pursuits and our campus conversations need to be open, free, and respectful. If you have any issues in this regard, please reach out to university leadership to express your concerns. As long as I am your dean, Arts & Sciences will have an unwavering and unqualified commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. We must be free to raise all ideas in civil discourse, whether they from a liberal or conservative perspective. The strength we gain from unfettered discussion makes universities like ours precious resources for our nation.
Second, I call on each member of our community to be as generous and open as possible. Times like these require the best from each of us, and we should also strive to elicit the best from others. As we move forward, as we enjoy the opportunities and freedoms of a great academic community such as ours, we must also respect difference of opinion and perspective.
I thank each of you for your dedication to the university, to each other, and to seeking a brighter future for all. I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Barbara A. Schaal
Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor of Biology