August 20, 2020

As we enter the new academic year of 2020-2021 in a time of unprecedented national challenges, the Board of Trustees of Susquehanna University affirms our commitment to the mission of the University — to educate students for productive, creative and reflective lives of achievement, leadership and service in a diverse, dynamic and interdependent world.

We are deeply concerned about the current racial strife and division that exist in our country and are keenly aware that Susquehanna University is not immune from the environment and institutional systems that enable racism and other structural oppressions. The University mission statement and our commitment to those whom we serve require our Board of Trustees to address current racial and social injustices that have a direct impact on our campus. While acknowledging the past important and successful initiatives of the University on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity, current events make us acutely cognizant that there remains significant work to be done as we strive to foster a living, learning and working educational environment serving the broad University community.

The Board of Trustees affirmatively states and pledges to the entire Susquehanna University community, especially to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, faculty, and staff, that we are committed to doing that work.

In the coming months, the Board of Trustees will be engaging in both personal and organizational exploration of racial attitudes and behaviors and how those attitudes and behaviors impact strategic planning, policy development and decision making at Susquehanna University. We are placing a specific emphasis on listening, active learning, and critical assessment of our roles as Trustees with a goal of setting an appropriate example of inclusivity.

The strategic plan adopted by the Board of Trustees last October includes significant diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. The relevance and necessity of these initiatives have become ever more evident this summer. The Board of Trustees supports the recent action of President Green in convening a task force of faculty, staff, students and trustees charged with ensuring “that the campus is a safe and supportive community in which all are assured an opportunity to thrive as students, scholars and employees.” The CenSUs Task Force: Everyone Counts has been working through the summer and has developed recommendations for actions. Consistent with its responsibilities, the Board of Trustees looks forward to sharing in the work of CenSUs, including the anticipated receipt of a revised Statement of Ethical Living, Diversity and Inclusion in early 2021. In connection with this activity, the Board will issue its own Statement of Philosophy on Racial and Social Justice. This additional Statement will address not only a mandate for an educational environment free of racism, bigotry and acts of hatred, but respect for civil discourse including freedom of thought and speech and the exchange of diverse opinions.

Additionally, the Board of Trustees supports recommendations for expanded discussions with Selinsgrove community leaders. The objective is to build upon and improve long-standing relationships with a goal of securing commitments for an even safer and more welcoming community for all members of the Susquehanna family, and in particular BIPOC students, faculty, and staff.

Against the backdrop of these times, we are aware of the many challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the “new reality” of the 2020-21 academic year. President Green, the administrative team, faculty, and staff have worked extremely hard to ensure the best learning environment possible in the midst of these unique and challenging conditions. In a year in which all of our citizenry have confronted the reality of COVID-19, we express appreciation for the diligent effort, commitment and work of all University leaders, faculty and staff.

The Board of Trustees extends its best wishes to everyone for a productive, creative and reflective year, filled with high achievement, opportunities for leadership development, and learning the importance and value of service to others.