Academic Quad Fountain

President's message

Dear BU Family,

Since the inexplicable death of George Floyd in Minnesota last month, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some additional thoughts, and invite all of you to do the same at virtual town halls this summer. So that we may become a stronger and better BU and a more welcoming and inclusive community, we must continue this important dialogue together.

To BU students, parents, colleagues, and alumni of color, particularly Black members of our community: regardless of any discrimination I endured, I cannot put myself in your place, but I share your outrage. The outpouring of grief, frustration and anger in recent protests across our country and the globe arrived amidst a pandemic that has ravaged communities, seeded fear, and placed physical distance between us.

Education should be an effective antidote for discrimination and bigotry. There is no better way to challenge our own notions and learn to value cultural differences than to open-mindedly learn from one another as one community. When I arrived at BU in July 2017, I spent my first year meeting with many constituencies, listening, and observing. In my second year, I established the President’s Commission for Diversity and Inclusion, co-chaired by Dr. Shavonne Shorter and Mr. Wayne Whitaker. Because of what I learned in my first year, I identified diversity, equity and inclusion as an area of opportunity for our community, and this will be one of three pillars in the strategic plan that will guide BU for the next decade.

President Bashar Hanna

Over the past year, the Commission has been hosting town hall meetings, engaging in focus groups with various constituency groups, and collecting data. In Fall 2019, we administered a campus climate survey to employees and students, specifically inquiring about our diversity and inclusion efforts and opportunities. The results of this survey were being analyzed as COVID-19 hit us. We shared an overview of the survey results at our Leadership Council meeting last week, and we will share the same information with the BU community at the beginning of the fall semester.

The commitment to make our University a more diverse, inclusive, and supportive institution has never been more important or more urgent. This criticality was galvanized last fall when faculty, staff and I walked arm-in-arm with our students demanding diversity, inclusion and safety.

Huskies do not cower in the face of adversity. We have grit and we will overcome. Each of us must do our part to inspire our communities. We must listen and learn from each other, appreciate what makes us different, celebrate this diversity, and steadfastly remain true to our common humanity.

In the spirit of open-mindedly learning from one another, I have held over the past month virtual listening sessions with the newly elected student officers of our Community Government Association, the President’s Commission for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Leadership Council members. Last week, I took part in a virtual community event hosted by Columbia County’s Coalition for Social Equity, and moderated by our own Dr. Shorter. As I have listened to students and colleagues and community members in these conversations, I have learned a lot, and I look forward to hearing from even more voices within the BU Family. I have invited members of the faculty and staff to join me at upcoming virtual listening sessions this summer, and look forward to scheduling more sessions for students, alumni, and other members of our community beginning in August.

Please join me in the critical work ahead. We Huskies will rise to this occasion, persevere, and serve as a model for others to emulate. I look forward to collaborating with you!