Moving Forward | A Message from WPU President

June 11, 2020
Peace lights

WPU Community,

First of all, thank you.

Last week, I asked our community to put our values into action – to be committed to community and embrace diversity, inclusion and respect. I have already heard of numerous stories of many of you doing just that – thank you! It is a start…but let’s be clear…it is only a start. There is a lot of hard work in front of us.

You may recall, I opened my last message with “There are no words…”. Since then, much has transpired in our community and around the world. Protests and demonstrations have continued and voices are demanding to be heard (including those of our alumni, students, faculty and staff). While there are no words to adequately address the current climate, there are words rising up that are absolutely clear:

    • Do we really believe that Black lives do matter?

    • Are we truly committed to fighting racism?

The answer to both of those questions at William Peace University is an unequivocal yes. We will continue to be a community of action – a community that continues to affirm and support our Black students and other people of color. And we are committed to continually getting better. We will pursue understanding so that we as a community can build a future that is better than the present. We must be a community of action for change to occur.

In order for our action to be impactful – our first action this summer must be listening.

Over the past several days, our Senior Leadership Team, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Human Resources has engaged in important work supporting our campus community. We have conducted numerous challenging conversations as well as hosted meetings to develop a plan to bring action to our values.

Our first endeavor occurred on Friday, June 5th, when many of our faculty and staff gathered for HOLDING SPACE – a time to come together as a community of employees and process what is transpiring and to provide a place for those who are hurting, angry and frustrated to speak – and for many – to listen. It was a great start to help our campus take the first step down the road to healing and change – and we know there is much work yet to be done. Part of our journey as a community will require each of us to be introspective – HOLDING SPACE was a perfect opportunity to do just that.

On Thursday, June 11th, Anthony Hollomon of the Office of Residence Life is partnering with Stephanie Reed, the Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, to host Peace Speaks, our second installment of the summer. This session will be solely focused on the current climate and providing space for students (only) to engage and process these challenging times. Current students can use this link to register: (https://forms.gle/rt3uuZQXwTch8EDg7).

I will be holding three Moving Forward engagement events, one for students, one for faculty and staff, and one for alumni. These events will be designed around questions and ideas (submitted in advance) on how we move forward in fighting racism. I want to hear from you and listen to the voices of our community – the feedback will be critically important in identifying our next steps – moving from listening to action.

Moving Forward for current Pacers will occur at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, June 17th. An invitation and link to a Google form to collect ideas and questions will be sent via email to your University account by Friday, June 12th.

Moving Forward for faculty & staff will occur at 2:00 pm on Monday, June 22nd. An invitation and link to a Google form to collect ideas and questions will be sent via email to your University account by Friday, June 12th.

Moving Forward for Alumni will occur at 5:30 pm on June 24th. Please send questions and ideas to president@peace.edu with the subject line : Moving Forward-Alumni. You can register for the event here: https://alumniconnect.peace.edu/e/movingforward-session-alumni/

We are setting up these varied experiences in order to listen to the members of our community – and develop a better understanding of their experience. Understanding is the first step to fighting racism. We will be using the questions, feedback and input from all of these sessions to finalize our plans for additional programs for students as well as training and education for faculty and staff.

Thank you for your Commitment to Community and support of Diversity, Inclusion and Respect.

In Peace,

President Ralph