To the members of the University of Illinois System community:
The holidays are a time for family and friendships, for nurturing our ties to those who are most important to us.
While many of us will soon disperse to see loved ones away from our campuses, the renewal, reflection and connection that are so much a part of this season of celebration extend to our entire U of I System family.
We are bound together across our three universities by a shared set of commitments – to teaching and learning; to scholarly thought and ideas; to the quest for truth, knowledge and opportunity; to respectful engagement; and to enduring values.
Among these shared values is our strong belief in inclusion – in equity and opportunity for all who seek them and, ultimately, to fairness.
However, we also live in a time of tension and challenge. Discrimination and inequities across society have been and continue to be exposed. They are, sadly, common and stubbornly persistent.
At times, we find such shortcomings at our own universities, leaving some within our U of I System family with the belief that the doors of opportunity are not as widely open for them and that reactions to our differences deprive them of the full sense that they belong here.
So, let us declare once again that racism and discrimination have absolutely no place within this family.
Nor does intolerance based on any of our differences – sex, faith, race, culture, income, geography, politics, appearance and so many others. Embracing and celebrating these differences makes us stronger – as a university system, as a country and as a society.
As members of the University of Illinois System family, we have an obligation to ensure that all are welcome here – that each and every one of us knows, without hesitation or doubt, that we all belong.
I encourage you over the next few weeks to rest and recharge, but also to reflect – and then to join me in the year ahead in recommitting to live the values and ideals that we share.
Until we return in January, I wish you peace and joy throughout this holiday season.