President's Initiative on Diversity and Inclusion
Letter to Faculty, Staff and Students
June 4, 2020
Faculty, Staff and Students:
In my June 2, 2020, message to students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, I wanted to express an overarching point of view to the challenges we are facing as a country. Upon reflection and feedback, I realize that it fell short, and I also needed to openly address those who are being directly impacted by disturbing violence and abuse, among other items.
African Americans in this country have historically had to deal with the challenges of discrimination, prejudice and bias. The senseless and tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and others are examples of the heavy burden African Americans have to carry and live with daily. While we have made progress over the years, that progress has been dimmed by the continuing stain of prejudice, discrimination and lack of respect for human life and dignity. Those who commit acts of racism do not share my values or those held by Murray State University (MSU). I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and also to those hurting.
Many want to know what we have done and will do to ensure that MSU is a welcoming and safe place for African American students, faculty and staff during this difficult time. We have seen your comments and we hear you. We value you and we are taking additional steps to combat racial prejudice and discrimination.
In fall 2019, I appointed a commission for addressing diversity and inclusion on campus. Dr. SG Carthell chairs the committee on Student Life. Black Student Council has a representative on this important committee, which is made up of a diverse group of students, faculty and staff.
But, we still have much work to do and we are taking additional action to ensure that we not only talk about diversity and inclusion, but also embody it. I have asked Dr. Don Robertson and Dr. SG Carthell to develop a set of work groups for the fall 2020 semester to address specific topics and concerns as we move forward together. They are signatories on this letter, and like me, have a deep commitment to this institution and to diversity and inclusion. These work groups will be guided by the MSU Diversity Commitment:
- Accept One Another
- Learn From One Another
- Create an Atmosphere of Positive Engagement
- Challenge Discrimination and Bias
We value the voices of all students at MSU. To our African American students and other students of color: we will work proactively to make MSU the premier example of an engaging and inclusive campus where you can focus on achieving academic excellence and future success. As Dr. Marvin D. Mills, Sr., founder and namesake of our Mills Multicultural Center, often said, “Excellence is not accidental.”
We are committed to living up to Dr. Mill’s legacy and the expectations of our many faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. Our best days are ahead.
Dr. Bob Jackson, President
Dr. Don Robertson, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management
Dr. SG Carthell, Executive Director, Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership & Inclusive Excellence