Message from the Dean

June 1, 2020 - By: Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore

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Honors College Community, 

I wanted to take a moment to check in and to encourage all of you to find ways to similarly check in with your colleagues, fellow students, recent graduates, and each other as you are able.  This is a time to show unity and compassion, and try to help people get resources to heal.
 
Last week was a tough one for many in our community and across the world.   Tensions that have laid themselves bare, given the continued treatment of Black Americans by police, are heightened by a storied history in the U.S. and beyond.  This is all the more poignant in light of the disproportionate impact of the current pandemic on communities of color.   It is important to recognize that Black Americans are hurting a deep, soul wrenching pain that doesn’t easily go away. 

The pain doesn’t stop there, what is unfolding is endemic of the reality that black, brown, and indigenous communities contend with every day.  A light is continually being shone to make clear the impact of decades of racism, all of the other isms, and systemic inequities.  There are atrocities faced by every marginalized, disfranchised, stereotyped, misunderstood, and excluded population and community which go unaddressed or inadequately addressed daily.  There are allies and many well-meaning and intentioned individuals - who also feel the pain, confusion, and frustration - who stand in unity calling for the structural and systemic change that will lead to a better future.  Is this enough?  Only time will tell.  We can be a part of the change that we want to see happen.

Our country, yet again, finds itself on the precipice of change.  The question is, how will we move forward and to what end?  Within the MSU Honors College, we are intentional about the importance of valuing every person.  It is my sincerest hope that what we are witnessing on many fronts will strengthen our individual and collective resolve to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are more than efforts.  That the essence of inclusive excellence continues to be a reality in the lives of the students, faculty, staff, indeed every community and constituency with whom the Honors College interacts.  We can do what is within our collective, educational capacity to be a part of the solution.  How will we respond?

As we contemplate how we as leaders, in our respective spaces, step up at this time, I offer the following.  There is an opportunity for leadership at all levels of society and institution type to lead and not just by example.  What does this look like?  Identifying action steps that will get us to the change that we desire.  Developing and adhering to mechanisms to hold ourselves, especially leadership, accountable for: doing the necessary work; providing sufficient resources; dismantling oppressive and discriminatory systems; establishing inclusive and equitable mechanisms to value the contributions of every member of society; demonstrating progress; and working continually to achieve change that results in more equitable treatment of diverse communities.  We must do this as a community. The voices and experiences of our many constituencies and the expertise of the scholars and practitioners who have been on the cutting edge have to be partners in developing solutions.  Once developed, each of us have to own these next steps as our own.  Many people, now and tomorrow, are depending on us standing up and stepping up in this moment.  We can model for and with leadership what that means.  The work ahead is not easy, it is important and necessary.

I again ask, that if you are willing and able, that you take a moment to connect with members of the Honors College community; that we not allow the physical distance that is between us right now to minimize our individual/collective need or desire for sincere, humane, and social connections.  Be well and be safe.
 
Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, PhD
Dean and Professor, Honors College