Nov. 23, 2016 - This past week we have all borne witness as deep wounds of division have been revealed across our nation. As a microcosm of society, The College of St. Scholastica has a share in this difficult experience. Many people in our community are feeling pain, fear, and uncertainty. These feelings are very real and they run deep. On behalf of The College of St. Scholastica, I want to acknowledge the significance of these experiences, and affirm and express our deep care and respect for each and every member of the community.
When we gathered at the inauguration ceremony a month ago, I affirmed that the Benedictine values that have guided the College through its first century will continue to drive us forward into the future. We can be sure of this. They inspire our commitment to addressing issues of peace and justice, and to working together for the benefit of the common good. So too, as an engaged citizenry, we must act according to conscience in affairs of civic importance. Higher education calls for the free exchange of ideas, for grappling with difficult questions, and also, keeping one's mind open to the ideas and experiences of others. CSS offers a distinctive approach: our core values of respect and hospitality invite us to dialogue in a supportive and open manner. Inspired by the counsel of St. Benedict, we strive to "listen with the ear of the heart."
As I moved through the last few days, I have had a deepening sense of importance about our college here on the hill: who we are and what we are about, and especially, why it matters so much! On Monday, I met with the City of Duluth Human Rights Officer, Carl Crawford, to discuss the College's Inclusive Excellence initiatives and to discern opportunities for our collaboration. I expressed the College's serious commitment to continue growing as a diverse and inclusive community, and offered our support for broader efforts by city leaders. This was very well received and will be discussed with the Mayor. Tuesday night, I was pleased to see so many members of our community, as well as numerous guests, in attendance at the Peace & Justice Lecture Series in Mitchell Auditorium. It addressed the topic of "Growing Up Black in Urban America." Yale University Law School Professor James Forman, Jr. shared his experiences as a public defender for youth, and as an advocate for educational opportunity and racial justice. A number of students stepped up to the microphone during the Q & A that followed, posing thoughtful questions, many of which stemmed from the challenging public discourse in this country. At the crux of this discourse, expressed in varied ways, I find a recurring theme: the personal, familial and social significance of honoring identity.
At CSS, we view this matter of identity through a very special lens — that all of God's people are part of one human family, in solidarity with one another. We hold fast to our conviction that every person is of intrinsic and inestimable value. I am both proud and inspired to be a part of this life-giving culture, while knowing well how important it is for each one of us to protect and strengthen it at every turn, as responsible stewards of St. Scholastica today.
Colette McCarrick Geary, Ph.D.