Board of Visitors Meeting June 4, 2020 - Board of Visitors - Christopher Newport University

Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Meeting June 4, 2020

The Board of Visitors met virtually on June 4, 2020. The meeting was held as permitted by Va. Code § 2.2-3708.2, Chapter 1283 of the 2020 Acts of the Virginia General Assembly, without a quorum of the Board physically assembled in one location, due to the nature of the ongoing State of Emergency declared by the Governor's Executive Order 51 which made it impracticable and unsafe to convene in person. Rector Robert R. Hatten, presided over the meeting.

Present from the Board

  • Robert R. Hatten, Esq.
  • Ms. Maria Herbert
  • Mr. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Mr. W. Bruce Jennings
  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Ms. Terri M. McKnight, CPA
  • The Hon. Gabriel A. Morgan, Sr.
  • Ms. Christy T. Morton
  • Lindsey Carney Smith, Esq.
  • Dr. Ella P. Ward
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason

Absent from the Board

  • Mr. William R. Ermatinger
  • Mr. Junius H. Williams, Jr.

Present from the University

  • The Honorable Paul Trible, President
  • Mr. William Brauer, Executive Vice President
  • Mrs. Cynthia Perry, Chief of Staff
  • Dr. David Doughty, Provost
  • Mrs. Jennifer Latour, Vice President for Strategy and Planning
  • Mrs. Adelia Thompson, Vice President for University Advancement
  • Mrs. Beverley Mueller, Executive Assistant
  • Maureen Matsen, Esq., University Counsel
  • Dr. Tatiana Rizova, Faculty Senate President
  • Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success
  • Dr. Kevin Hughes, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Mr. Robert Lange, Dean of Admission
  • Mr. Henry Womble, Student Government Association President
  • Ms. Cynthia Allen Whyte, President of the Alumni Society

Rector Hatten welcomed everyone present and asked Ms. Mueller to have a roll call of the Board members present.   Rector Hatten informed the Board that he had appointed a nominating committee to propose a slate of officers to be presented at the September meeting for the positions of Rector, Vice Rector and Secretary. He said the members of the committee are Mr. Bruce Jennings, Mr. Bill Ermatinger, Ms. Judy Ford Wason and Ms. Maria Herbert.

Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve the minutes of the February 7, 2020 meeting. Sheriff Morgan provided the motion, which was seconded by Ms. Wason and the minutes were approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten then called for questions or discussion on the two Emerita Resolutions. He then called for a motion to approve RESOLUTIONS 1 and 2: Award of Emerita Status. Mr. Hunter provided the motion which was seconded by Mr. Kast. Resolutions 1 and 2 were approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

He then called for questions or discussion on RESOLUTION 3: Promotions of Instructional Faculty. Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve Resolution 3 which was provided by Mr. Hunter, seconded by Ms. Carney Smith and it was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten then gave his statement regarding the current racial crises in our country and his remarks are attached to the minutes.

President’s Report

President Trible began by sharing his response to alumnus Mr. Marlon Dubuisson and to those who signed the petition and the many others who communicated directly with him about his recent messages. The communication between President Trible and Mr. Dubuisson is attached.

President Trible then offered a summary of the accomplishments over the last year and a review of the challenges the university is facing at this time. He said that the academic year was a remarkable success by every measure and every major goal had been accomplished. He also applauded his colleagues for their hard work and heroic effort in responding to the pandemic.

In reviewing priorities for this year, he reported that our annual fundraising goal was $6 million dollars and with the extraordinary effort of Ms. Adelia Thompson and her team, we expect to close the year at $6.4 million. On the capital side, President Trible reported that the Jennings Family Stadium had been completed and he thanked Mr. Jennings and his family for their strong and generous support. In addition, he said that the construction of the Fine Art Center continues apace and is scheduled for completion in 2021. President Trible also reported that the construction of a new residence hall, Presidents Hall, will be located within the CNU Apartments complex and it is nearing completion and will be ready for 80 students in August.

President Trible was pleased to report that Christopher Newport was one of the first universities to participate in Virginia’s Tech Talent Initiative and CNU was the only non-doctorial institution to participate in this program.
He also reported that the Luter School of Business achieved reaccreditation which is a prestigious honor and distinction, only shared by 5% of business schools in the world. The new master program in financial analysis will begin this fall and the first class will matriculate with 20 full-time students.
President Trible said that a new communications plan had been implemented to enhance CNU’s reach and reputation. The plan includes launching the Inspiring Leadership initiative, production of a new admission recruitment video and expanded digital advertising, among other things.

He said that succession and retention planning for academic and administrative staff has been a focus this year and that mentoring and development of mid-level staff continues. Several individuals assumed new leadership roles in human resources, community engagement IT and institutional research.

President Trible also reviewed the strategic goals which are also a part of the annual and six-year planning. He told the Board that there are 287 full-time faculty and we are moving closer to our goal of 300 faculty members. He noted that hiring is now frozen and times are uncertain but we are within reach of our faculty goal.

President Trible told the Board that our current 4-year graduation rate is 70% which is one of the highest in America. CNU’s 6-year graduation is 80%, an all-time high, and is an increase of 17% points over the last decade. He also noted that the freshman retention rate will increase by over 2 percentage points to 87%. He thanked all of his colleagues for their hard work to attain these goals, in particular he was especially appreciative of Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines’ efforts.

President Trible said that when the semester came to a crashing halt in March with the COVID-19 pandemic, CNU’s faculty and staff and everyone on campus came together to provide on-line instruction for our students. He noted that 80% of our personnel are teleworking and conducting important university business using Google Meet, Zoom and other platforms. Approximately 90 people have been deemed essential and continue to work on campus. Also, there are approximately 80 students who remained on campus until the end of the semester.

He told the Board that many difficult and important decisions had been made in recent weeks. First, he said that all the faculty and staff are continuing to be paid. Secondly, he said that CNU returned $4.5 million to our students and their families as room and board rebates. He also announced that the cost of attending CNU next year would not increase – the cost of tuition and fees, room and board will be frozen. All hiring, travel, and non-essential purchases have been frozen and energy conservation measures are in place. These and other actions have allowed the University to establish $2.1 million in contingency funds.

Looking to the future, he said that enrollment in our May and summer classes, all offered online, has doubled. He said the hope for the fall is to bring back our students to campus for in-person instruction in a manner that is safe to do. President Trible said schools are considering coming back in August and finish classes and exams by Thanksgiving due to the fear of a second wave of the coronavirus.

The plan for returning to campus includes the screening of students, faculty and staff, testing as necessary, cleaning and sanitizing frequently, wearing masks and social distancing. Guidance from the Governor is to be provided over the next several days and we will ensure that we are adhering to those guidelines.

He said the budget will be presented today, but times are uncertain and it may be necessary to revise these numbers in September when we know more clearly what the year will look like in terms of dollars from the state and the size of our freshman class. He said that Dean Lange reports that currently there are 1,231 deposits from perspective freshmen. However, every day that number goes up or down by 1 or 2. It is our hope to reach our goal of 1,200 or at least come very close. He also reported that 3,538 returning students have registered for fall classes, which is within 17 students of last year. Additionally, our student housing numbers are consistent with past years.

He noted that CNU has received $2.8 million from the federal government under the CARES Act and of that, $1.4 million goes directly to students and $1.4 million goes to support the operations of the University. The Governor will also allocate additional monies from the Emergency Education Relief Funds and we have requested $1.5 million to help offset the enormous costs of our response to the coronavirus. He said we are hopeful the economy will show signs of recovery later in the fall and if so, there will be additional funding from the state. We will also know by that time what monies we will receive in addition from the Governor.

Rector Hatten thanked President Trible for his remarks and acknowledged the hard work of the President and his colleagues.

President Trible told the Board that Ms. Cindi Perry had announced her retirement earlier in the year but the Rector had reached out to her and she has agreed to stay until the end of the year. He said that Ms. Perry has been at the center of every decision being made on campus for years but the role that she has played in the last three months has been extraordinary and her leadership is unparalleled.

He then called on the President of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Tatiana Rizova. Dr. Rizova shared her perspectives and reflection on the previous academic year. She shared with the Board the recent work of the Faculty Senate and the response of the faculty during the COVID-19 crises.

Rector Hatten thanked Dr. Rizova for her moving remarks and said she symbolized what it means to become an American, expressed the values that all of us hold dear and thanked her for her leadership of the faculty and all the hard work and said she was setting a wonderful example for our students.

Next, Rector Hatten asked the former Student Government President Henry Womble to share a few words. Mr. Womble reported that he is a 2020 graduate of Christopher Newport and majored in finance in the Luter School of Business and minored in economics. He will be participating in the newly established Master of Financial Analysis Program this fall.

He stated that he believed that moving to online classes to conclude this academic year was a success for most students. He stated that many student organizations continued to meet virtually and have stayed connected. Mr. Womble said the “CNU 2020 Day” created to recognize those students who would have graduated on May 9th was a big success and he was thankful for the efforts. He said he was very appreciative of all the hard work involved in rescheduling and working out logistics for the school year and the plans for the actual 2020 Commencement ceremony in October.

President Trible asked the Alumni Society President Cynthia Allen Whyte to offer remarks. Ms. Whyte said the Alumni Society has been busy diligently working in spite of the pandemic. There has been one meeting so far and another is scheduled in two weeks. The Alumni Society will begin the nominating process for returning Board members, however, it was decided to postpone recruitment of new members until the fall due to COVID-19. She said the Alumni Society is also working on a number of procedural matters.

President Trible added that in March when we celebrated CNU Day, there were many gatherings of alumni across the country and that $1 million was raised that day for academic programs and scholarships. He said that the participation of our alumni ensured our success on that day. He said he was very grateful for all of our alumni who have graced our campus for generations. Rector Hatten thanked Ms. Thompson for her work with the Alumni Society and for all of her fundraising efforts on behalf of the University.

Next, Rector Hatten called on Ms. Jennifer Latour to present the Tuition and Fees and Room and Board proposal and the 2020-2021 Budget.

Ms. Latour said that it is the University’s recommendation to freeze tuition and fees and room and board. She said this is the case for both in-state and out-of-state students as well as part-time and graduate students. She noted that given this is the second year of holding tuition flat, it is recommended that the Captains Commitment program be suspended and that the graduate tuition and fees that were set in February be rolled back, with the exception of the new Master of Financial Analysis program.

Following the review of RESOLUTION 4: Tuition and Fees and Room and Board, Rector Hatten called for any questions or discussion. He then asked for a motion to approve Resolution 4. Mr. Jennings provided the motion which was seconded by Ms. McKnight and Resolution 4 was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten then asked Ms. Latour to review with the Board the proposed budget for 2020-2021. Ms. Latour said the budget being presented is $171.8 million and she outlined the base budget assumptions. She noted that the unrestricted contributions line increased just under $900,000. She explained these are the funds that come to the University from our education and real estate foundations. Ms. Latour said there is a recommendation that the Funds for Excellence program stay at level funding levels. There is a recommendation for a modest increase of $25,000 for our undergraduate research stipends as part of our ongoing accreditation commitment. She also outlined the additional Education and General recommendations. Ms. Latour then reviewed the Auxiliary Enterprise revenue budget and said this assumes that students will return to campus. It includes a reduction in expected Ferguson Center revenue and expenses due to the cancelations of fall shows. Planned expenses for Auxiliary Enterprises were reviewed and she said they include funds to support cost escalations in maintenance service contracts and an increase in athletics insurance, support for the Ferguson Center, student activities, student life and other programs. Ms. Latour said that in order to be proactive, two contingency funds were established to position the University to respond quickly to any potential reductions in state revenues or additional COVID-19 expenses. Due to these large set asides, there is no recommendation for a deposit into the capital, housing or dining reserves.

Following her presentation, Rector Hatten called for any questions or discussion. He then asked for a motion to approve RESOLUTION 5: Operating Budget for 2020-2021. Mr. Jennings provided the motion which was seconded by Ms. McKnight. The budget was then approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.

Dear Mr. Dubuisson,

I hear your cry for change and appreciate your thoughtful message. Black lives matter to me and always have and always will.

I am very sorry that the words that I shared did not adequately and appropriately express my outrage and sorrow over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the senseless killings of countless others and police brutality in our country. I share your call for justice and am united in your demand for deep and systemic change.

I do have a duty as you wrote to hear your voices, see your fears and help in your struggle. I pledge to do so and will ensure that Christopher Newport will stand with you.

So how do we move forward? First, we must all demand that justice is swift for police abuse, and that there is real reform of our criminal justice system, appropriate training and accountability of police officers and an end to violence in our country.

This is also a time for us to have a serious conversation and really listen to each other. It is difficult for me and many others to fully feel the depth of your pain and anger because we have not walked in your shoes. Our campus community needs to more fully understand what it's like being Black in America.

As a campus community we must also discuss and have a better understanding of the racial inequities in income, housing, health care, jobs and education that contribute so powerfully to the problems we face. We must thoughtfully address these issues and add our voices to effect change.We will listen and learn and lead and serve together as a community committed to lives of significance. Our able faculty can help us to do this.

To that end, I have asked the Provost, the President of the Faculty Senate and the Chair of the University's Council on Diversity and Inclusion to immediately plan very serious and honest conversations and convene those conversations as soon as we are able to return to campus. We will invite students, alumni, faculty and staff and all those who wish to contribute. I will participate personally and listen and learn from those conversations. Our goal will be to more fully understand the struggles of people of color and seek ways to bring about change.

As further evidence of my commitment, I ask that my name be added to your petition. I will encourage all of our students, faculty, staff and alumni to join us in this people and country changing work.

I pledge that together we will act to ensure that Black lives are safe and Black lives matter. Together we will work to inform minds and stir hearts to ensure the goodness and promise of America.


Paul Trible

Mr. Dubisson's Response to President Trible

President Trible,

I appreciate your genuine response and your ability to self-evaluate the message that your previous email conveyed.

At a time like this, it is important that we work together across color, class, and economic lines to ensure we build a more equitable and robust society than the one that currently exists. I am happy to hear that you also believe there needs to be systematic change throughout various institutions including - economic inequality, affordable housing, access to healthcare, and a fair job market. Bridging these gaps for Black Americans won't happen overnight, but with the help of someone in your position, and the CNU community, we can help secure a better future for those who have been left on the outside looking in.

I look forward to this discussion being held when the campus is safe to reopen, and the work we can all do together to make a positive change. Actions will always speak louder than words and adding your name to our list is a good first step.

Thank you for your email and your pledge to support that Black Lives Matter.


Marlon W. Dubuisson, MPP
SCFAA, President Fairfax County NAACP Young Adult Committee Chair

Good afternoon. I am Bobby Hatten.

I am a trial lawyer and I have the great honor to serve as the Rector of the Board of Visitors of Christopher Newport University,

And I welcome all of you to this public meeting of that board.

Before starting the business meeting I would like to take a moment of personal privilege

To speak to everyone in the Commonwealth of Virginia who is listening:

We have a crisis of structural and intractable racism in America.

It is obvious and blatant to everyone who has eyes to see and a heart to understand.

So obvious that the entire country has just seen a policeman murder a Black man in broad daylight, slowly killing him with his knee on his neck, while three other policemen stood by and did nothing to stop it.

That crime, as well as other atrocities by police, has ignited the justifiable rage and anger of millions of Americans—Black, Brown and White—who are still marching through our cities and towns.

Chanting, crying, shouting, and pleading "BLACK LIVES MATTER"—and indeed they do.

One thing is certain: White people, like me, DO NOT KNOW what it is like to be Black in America,

But IF this week has taught us anything, it has taught us that it is time—long past time—that White men and women in America need to start listening to Black people and standing up with them.

Listen when they say:

America has a crisis of impunity, immunity, and accountability for police brutality toward Black people.

Listen when they say:

America has a crisis of inequality in income, health care, opportunity, and education for Black people.

Listen when they say:

America has a crisis of justice in our courts and of leadership in our government.

All over America, these cries of Black people for justice and fairness have not been answered.

BUT today the whole world is listening.

We—White people—should have been listening sooner – but this is not new.

Systemic racism against Black people has been ingrained in American culture for hundreds of years.

From slavery, to Jim Crow laws, to the Ku Klux Klan, to segregated schools, restaurants, and hotels, to the red lining of real estate, and the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this part of our American history is an ugly story.

Only three years ago, as a country we shamed a Black football player who harmlessly put his knee on the ground to protest police brutality during the singing of our national anthem.

He rightly believed that our national pledge of allegiance is to "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.""

But the police killings of Black men and women has continued.

Enough is enough.

White people can no longer look away and refuse to confront these issues.

It is long past time for broad-reaching structural and institutional changes to our laws and our culture to root out and destroy racism against Black and Brown people in America.

As leaders of this great University, we have heard the voices of the Black Community and we support you.

Your voices, thoughts, and feelings matter to the University– but we want you to know that we have not been waiting for this national tragedy to respond.

Under the progressive leadership of President Paul Trible,

Last year we instituted the Community Captains program to directly change the lives of economically disadvantaged children in Newport News, most of whom are Black.

This program will ultimately provide 100 students with a totally free college education at CNU.

This progressive program is unmatched by any other college or university in the state of Virginia.

Last week the University Council on Diversity and Inclusion, led by our colleagues Sheriff Gabe Morgan and Brad Hunter, and including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and leaders from the community—submitted Christopher Newport's Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In thoughtful detail, this 25-page document outlines a bold plan of action for the University to overcome the remaining burdens of historical racism in higher education.

Today, twenty-one percent (21%) of CNU's 5,000 students are non-White, and 300 are Black. I am pleased to report that our focus on attracting more students of color has increased the number of Black students we expect to welcome to our Freshman class based on deposits received. This year we expect to welcome 91 Black students versus 78 last year—an increase of 16%. The Community Captains Program that I have just described will swell those numbers of Black students in future years.

Paul Trible's mantra and CNU's mission is to change hearts and minds so that we can provide leadership to our community, our state, and our country.

Happily, the hearts and minds of our nation are changing—yesterday thousands of Black, Brown, and White people gathered in front of the White House and their voices were lifted up in unison as they sang  - Lean on ME – Lean on me when you're not strong, I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on.

CNU's message to our students and to this community is simple:

Lean on Us because Black Lives Do Matter at CNU, and we intend to play a leadership role in changing the hearts and minds of our students, our community, and our country so that we can end the crisis of racism that is so destructive to our national ideals of equality, fairness, and justice.

Mr. Rector,

Thank you for inviting me to offer my perspective and reflections on the previous academic year on behalf of CNU faculty.

I recognize and am grateful to the entire CNU community for its momentous effort in wrapping up a trying academic year. We have dealt with challenges on many occasions. The challenge of the pandemic is a game changer and we will deal with its consequences in the foreseeable future.

To date, CNU faculty and staff members have spent 57 workdays fulfilling their duties and responsibilities under extraordinary circumstances. Our lives have been transformed in so many different ways. In spite of this dramatic change and numerous difficulties, we pulled through. We showed up. We persisted. We completed an arduous semester juggling family and work obligations, adjusting schedules and assignments, retooling teaching techniques, learning new online teaching platforms, and educating and counseling our students. The students made a quick transition from campus to home life and put their heads down to pore over lecture material and learn new ideas and theories in non-traditional ways. Administrative leaders and staff spent countless hours strategizing the future of our institution and figuring out ways of keeping all of its members safe and sound in the midst of the new “normal”.

Our new normal is unsettling. But we are fortunate that many dedicated individuals are working around the clock, weekdays and weekends, to prepare us to return to campus in fall as safely as possible. I am impressed with the extent and breadth of organization that deals with every minor or major aspect of CNU’s reopening. This is a true collaborative enterprise and it is a forte that we must keep reinforcing. I tried to estimate the amount of time that we have collectively spent on this extensive planning process. Based on 4 weeks of planning, 5 days a week, 6 hours a day (more than that for some of us here today), involving anywhere between 50 and 100 CNU members, I estimate that we have spent between 6,000 and 12,000 hours on extensive discussions, individual preparation, feedback gathering, and deep analytical thinking. We went above the call of duty not because this is a contractual obligation but because we care about each other and because we love this place deeply. This is our human contract.

I receive emails from anxious colleagues on a daily basis. As the medical knowledge about the novel coronavirus expands, we will have more answers to our questions and more informed decisions about how to protect our community. Nevertheless, concerns and apprehension remain. Faculty are anxious about what the future holds, the impact of the pandemic on the university budget, and the implications for our mission as a liberal arts institution.

We, faculty, are appreciative for being included in the conversations about reopening CNU in fall. Many of our colleagues have expressed opinions, shared experiences and their disciplinary expertise, and continue to do so eagerly. At its meeting in April, the Faculty Senate created a task force – the Crisis Response Team (CRT) – whose mission is to inform the broader conversation about academic instruction during the pandemic and in its aftermath. This faculty-driven task force is working alongside various other groups of academic administrators, staff, and faculty. Attaining the goal of safe reopening will be impossible without careful consultation and coordination of all of these teams.

The first task of the CRT was to revise the Faculty Senate’s memorandum to the Budget Advisory Committee given the expectation of future budget reductions. That work has been completed now and will resume in a second round of revisions in early fall after the state government announces its revised budget. The CRT is currently working on more specific recommendations on how to best approach instruction in fall given the serious limitations imposed by the pandemic. It is a genuine team effort which involves more than 20 faculty members who meet nearly every week and more than 50 faculty experts who volunteered to join the CRT and the SEC with insights based on their areas of academic expertise. The CRT has made a commitment to involve faculty in a community-wide conversation and provide frequent updates of its work to the university. The first report of the team has already been shared with all faculty and academic administrators.

All Faculty Senate Crisis Response Team recommendations will be based on solid data gathering and frequent collection of faculty feedback during town hall events. To inform our recommendations to the university administration, we conducted a survey of all faculty which garnered 268 responses (80% of all full-time faculty and 40 adjuncts). The survey results demonstrate that there is a high level of anxiety among us about face-to-face instruction in fall. For most of us this anxiety is based on our personal or family members’ health risks. 40% of faculty have one or more conditions identified by public health officials as COVID–19 risk factors for severe illness or serious complication, and 56% have a household member with one or more of these conditions. 46% of the faculty are parents of dependent children. Within this group 94% report that their children have been unable to attend school or their regular childcare arrangements, and 47% are very or extremely concerned that disruptions to their usual arrangements for caregiving/daycare/children’s school could impact their capacity to teach in person in Fall 2020.

How could these anxieties and concerns be alleviated? One key solution is flexibility. In Spring 2020, our faculty embraced flexibility in their modes of instruction and spent plenty of extra time in preparation for their courses to ensure their students’ success. 79% of our respondents said that they spent more time than usual on preparation for instruction. In Fall 2020, faculty are asking for flexibility so that they can safely deliver their course content and ensure their students are attaining their learning outcomes. A second key solution is a set of mitigation strategies. Faculty ranked the following risk mitigation strategies as their top ones:

  1. Testing, contact tracing, and communication regarding the response to outbreaks within the campus community
  2. Frequency of disinfection in shared spaces (classrooms, offices, restrooms, etc.)
  3. Ability to socially distance in shared academic spaces (classrooms, library, labs, studios/workshops, etc.)

I know that the university task force groups are already working on implementing these risk mitigation strategies and I am confident that faculty appreciate this extensive preparation for a safe return. Clear, honest, and frequent communication from our leaders is a top priority and expectation.

The Senate formulates its annual goals through extensive consultation with faculty. One of its goals for the previous academic year was to participate actively and meaningfully in diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Senate appreciates the opportunity to represent faculty on the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. We plan to continue this work through close collaboration with the Council on Diversity and Inclusion. We welcome President Trible’s invitation to “plan very serious and honest conversations” about diversity and inclusion as soon as we are able to return to campus.

We will use our knowledge, our human experiences, our words, and actions to build an institution that recognizes and celebrates the cultural diversity of our CNU community and our country. We must learn from each other and respect our different perspectives and cultural backgrounds. As a naturalized American whose U.S. cultural journey started in the state of Montana, and continued through Wisconsin, California, Utah, and Virginia, I have made my fair share of cultural faux-pas. I am lucky to have had patient, caring, thoughtful individuals, including my CNU students, teach me lessons in cultural sensitivity. I value these people’s perspectives and insights. They taught me with understanding, love, and forgiveness.

The events of the last week, following the killing of George Floyd and countless other black Americans, have rocked our country and the world. Words can hardly capture the human tragedy and grief that these men’s and women’s loved ones are experiencing. The destruction of one human life wrecks an entire universe of lives. Together, as a community, we are all participants in an important mission – to uphold the human contract which is based on respect and kindness toward all members of our society, without regard to their race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, socio-economic status, native language, political convictions or religious views.

Faculty are not only educators but also role models. We shatter biases and bring down cultural walls with words and actions. We affirm our commitment to these values and live them daily as teacher-scholars at a liberal arts institution of higher learning. We, faculty, students, staff, and administrators are all on the same team.

Thank you.

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