In solidarity with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities
A message from Don C. Sawyer III, vice president for equity and inclusion, and Judy Olian, president.Read More
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President Judy D. Olian
President Olian communicates regularly with the Bobcat family, through email and social media communications. Below are some recent messages.
On this Monday in January, we pause to remember a towering figure in our nation’s history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We remember his unwavering commitment to end the oppression of people of color. We remember how he championed change through peaceful means. We remember his sacrifice in dedicating his life to lifting others. And we remember the urgency in his actions to right wrongs. Dr. King serves as inspiration for generations to stand up against inequality, even when sitting down may be the easier path.
We honor Dr. King just two days before our nation partakes in the centuries-old tradition of a peaceful transfer of power, as Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. The irony of two recent and related events is not lost on me. In November, we experienced the powerful expression of a democracy when almost 160 million citizens exercised their right to vote in the 2020 election – the largest number of voters in U.S. history. Yet, on the day of certification of that election on Jan. 6, domestic terrorists attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened our elected officials and members of law enforcement, attempted to silence democracy, and challenged the most fundamental principles of our Constitution.
A peaceful transfer of power has been a hallmark of our democracy since 1801 and has served as an aspirational ideal for nations around the world. Inaugurations are days when we set aside our differences – often after fierce partisan campaigns – and we celebrate together the privileges of freedom of expression, of change through the voice of the people, of raising families in safety and security, of the aspiration of equal rights for all. These are the values that Dr. King espoused and which, ultimately, unforgivably, cost him his life.
While I cannot speak for Dr. King or know what he might say during these turbulent times, I imagine that still, 52 years after his assassination, he would conclude that we are far from a perfect union. There are countless challenges we have yet to overcome as a nation – pervasive injustices against underrepresented groups of all kinds; insidious disparities in economic, health and physical safety; unequal access to education; a worldwide pandemic that has disproportionately attacked those already struggling; and many others. Perhaps Dr. King also would draw on the insurrection at the Capitol to acknowledge a painful truth: Racism still fuels deep divisions and unrest in our country, and we must resolve to express our differences with strong voices, with urgency, but without violence.
A flourishing democracy requires acknowledgement of differences, a commitment to justice, and policies that create equity in opportunity and voice. Deeply entrenched differences may divide us, but a civil society learns to thrive by offering every individual the opportunity to live with dignity, respecting the cultures and roots of those differences, and confronting societal challenges based on reason and facts. That is the promise of a healthy democracy, and it is echoed in the words of Dr. King in his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, reminding us:
“This is no time to … take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
As we witness a key rite of passage in a democracy during Wednesday’s inauguration, I ask each of us in the Quinnipiac community to reflect on our role as an agent of change. What do we do, together, to heal our democracy? How do we become The University of the Future that models globally enlightened citizenry? How do we embody the ideals of a just society, become a “beloved community” that embraces all who enter from their many doors of lived experiences? How do we prepare our students to be champions of justice in their personal and professional lives?
We have already embarked upon this journey, together, through progress on our 10-point Action Plan to Advance Racial Justice, heightened commitments to our LGBTQ+ community, curricula review to engage around difference, launch of an inclusive excellence teaching lab, conversations on challenging topics throughout the year, and outreach to diverse communities and schools to become a more inclusive community. The impact of these actions will be the measure of our progress. I am confident that we will see that progress embodied in the character of our university community built on inclusive excellence, and in the life journeys of our students as courageous champions of positive change.
But progress cannot be delayed. Dr. King, speaking at the Riverside Church in 1967, said:
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Dr. King dedicated his life to striving for a better society, while inspiring generations. I am an incurable optimist. I am buoyed by the millions who do what is right; who “stand[s] at times of challenge and controversy” for our nation and for global communities; who commit — for ourselves and for future generations — to bettering the world with purpose and respect for our ideals, one day at a time. Let’s join together to achieve “a better society." It is the most fitting honor for Dr. King — and the bedrock of our democracy.
Dear colleagues and students,
Happy New Year! I hope you relaxed, stayed healthy, and enjoyed a special holiday with loved ones.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2021 – the much-awaited abatement of the pandemic crisis, some semblance of return to our healthy routines, and pent-up optimism for the future. With that eye on the future, I am excited to share the comprehensive vision emerging from our now-completed master facilities plan, “Designing Our Future,” which was assembled with input from so many across our community.
The plan serves as a general blueprint that will guide physical planning across QU’s three campuses over the next 10 years. It connects to, and brings to life, the vision and aspirations of our strategic plan, The University of the Future, and offers a flexible roadmap for a thoughtful, long-term physical plan that energizes our growing distinctions.
The vision expressed in the plan is a path toward enriching the learning, living and communal experiences of our students, faculty and staff. “Designing Our Future” notes important milestones in QU’s continued ascent over the next decade, and while it does not yet dictate the exact timing of key initiatives or prescribe every element of the plan that might be executed, it establishes a set of guiding principles and broad recommendations for capital investments on each of Quinnipiac’s three campuses.
We’ll be holding a town hall in the next few weeks to review the plan, answer any questions and hear your feedback. The plan reflects a dynamic vision that will continue to evolve in collaboration with our QU community, local neighbors and community partners.
Looking forward to seeing my fellow Bobcats as we start the spring semester.
2020 presented daunting challenges, yet our Quinnipiac family responded with extraordinary character, resilience, and care for one another. I am humbled and so deeply appreciative of our community — how you taught, cleaned, protected, continued your outstanding work, volunteered, sacrificed, devised solutions, and showed kindness each day to our entire community. Please see our video in celebration of YOU.
I join with the entire leadership of QU in wishing you a healthy, relaxing and joyous holiday season as we look forward to coming back together in 2021.
Dear students and parents,
Now that the Fall semester is over, I’ve been reflecting on our time together these past few months. No doubt, it was different, yet inspiring in the many innovative and caring ways our students, faculty and staff created the special Bobcat learning and living experience. Some of those moments are captured in this video.
We’re all really looking forward to your return for the new opportunities of the spring semester. Be well, have a happy and healthy holiday, and enjoy the special times with family.
Dear students and colleagues,
Guided by the principles of inclusive excellence, we continue on a path to create a safe, supportive and welcoming campus for all community members, embracing all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. We seek to create a community where everyone expresses their full selves and is supported through an intersectional approach guided by an understanding of how identities combine, resulting often in various forms of discrimination and privilege.
We heard from students, staff and faculty committed to realizing this goal. We worked closely with the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) student leaders to ensure that this work is collaborative and informed by their experiences. As a result of previous initiatives and more recent discussions, we share the following plan of action with our QU community:
Institutions built on a bedrock of equity and inclusion position all groups for success. In this set of actions, we seek to advance priorities in support of our fellow LGBTQ+ members as an embodiment of our commitment to inclusive excellence, to enable each member of our community to thrive. In so doing, we will become a more thoughtful, stimulating and inspiring community, a University of The Future. The university leadership holds itself accountable for progress on this set of initiatives in support of our LGBTQ+ community.
We look forward to partnering with you as we realize these commitments.
Don C. Sawyer III
VP for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Dear QU community,
Thanksgiving is a truly special time of year, and this year’s holiday takes on even greater meaning. I know most of us will be celebrating with fewer of our family and friends than we desire, yet there is still so much for which we are grateful. My Thanksgiving wish to each of you is to spend time enjoying the people and activities that make you happy and to share that happiness with others. And yes, to take a break from what has been a hectic and stressful period since March.
Let’s face it, the last several months have been difficult, forcing us all to live, study and work differently, to draw on uncharted models of running both our personal and work lives, to reevaluate what matters most, to find joy in unexplored places, and to serve others in new ways. I encourage you to turn to our QU family for support because this is a community that cares for—and offers a helping hand to—each other. I also hope you find a measure of comfort in the advancing medical understanding of the virus, the emergence of vaccines, and a discernable path to life post-COVID.
For me, I have found joy in simply connecting with others—whether through Zoom calls or walking around campus; in discovering leadership and resourcefulness distributed so widely across our QU family; in observing the flexibility and maturity of our students as they adapt to radical changes in their university life; in being humbled by the dedication and selflessness of hundreds of Bobcats who have sacrificed to keep QU up and running so well and in the creative solutions engineered by so many of you to teach and care for our students.
I also have found joy in some changes to how I’m spending my down time, such as streaming great concerts at home, watching a few good detective series, and taking some drives with Pete to explore new parts of Connecticut.
I hope each of you will use the next several days to rest and recharge, soak up all the love and good food your family is offering, and set aside some “you time.”
Wishing you personal joy, warmth and happiness over the break. Be well and Happy Thanksgiving!
Dear members of the QU family,
On this Veterans Day, let us pause to recognize and express our profound gratitude to all U.S. military veterans and especially to the 270 veterans and active military among our students, faculty and staff.
We enjoy many liberties because of the selfless actions of the men and women of the military. Throughout history, they have sacrificed to protect our nation’s independence and the freedoms of many societies around the world.
We are proud and privileged to welcome and embrace our veterans into the Bobcat family. Both the Military Times and Victory Media have named Quinnipiac among the leading “Best for Vets” schools and military-friendly schools in the country.
Our veterans are role models to us all. This year, for example, one of our six Center for Excellence winners is Jason Burke, a decorated 25-year Navy veteran and director of Veteran and Military Affairs for the university. This is the highest honor awarded at Quinnipiac, and it recognizes excellence in teaching and service to students.
Our community is humbled and enriched by the presence of our veterans and by their continued sacrifices for the cause of freedom in our country and around the world.
Please join me in celebrating our veterans, in appreciation and admiration.
Dear Quinnipiac students and classmates,
This evening marks a vitally important event. We are writing to you as millions of people around the country prepare to watch and listen to the major party presidential nominees engage in vigorous debate.
We’re lucky to live in a country where we are free to exercise choice. Regardless of whom you support, we each have a responsibility to learn the issues, know where the candidates stand, and then express our opinions — by voting. That’s what it means to be “an enlightened citizen.”
This has been a difficult and sometimes divisive time in our country. Holding different views should not be divisive – it just means that we see things differently. We owe it to ourselves, and to the greater good, to spend time to hear the reasons for, and to understand the roots of, those differences.
As we approach the final stretch of the presidential election process and hear tonight’s debate, let’s also remember what we stand for at QU.
We’re a community committed to inclusion and diversity, and that includes the range of political opinions and world views reflected on our campuses and all around us. Let’s accept and respect the fact that a wide spectrum of political views has a place on our campus, but intolerance does not.
We’re an institution that embraces vigorous discussion around viewpoints with which we may disagree. We can disagree, without being disagreeable, and without undermining the worth, dignity, legitimacy and equality of others in our community.
We’re a campus of 135 student-led organizations and clubs, each with its own mission, including those active in political discourse. Student clubs can be an important forum for meaningful and informative discussions this election season. They can be role models for respectful and vigorous debate of the vital issues of today and tomorrow and can demonstrate collaboration in addressing vital societal challenges despite differences in world view. Let’s show how it can be done, with civility.
So, in the weeks ahead, as our electoral process and political conversations heat up, let’s remember who we are and what we stand for in the QU community. Let’s be Bobcat proud, lead the way as tomorrow’s leaders, and as the University of the Future.
Judy Olian, President, Quinnipiac University
Gina DiVito, President, College Democrats
Mariam Shawish, President, College Republicans
Joshua Gorero, Co-President, Political Science Association
Samantha Murdock, Co-President, Political Science Association
To our Quinnipiac community:
Over the last several weeks, faculty, staff and students have come together through various forums to listen, learn and share very personal and often painful experiences of racism at Quinnipiac. They have also come together to express hope – and articulate the expectation – that we will take steps to eradicate the injurious effects of racism within our own community.
These forums have been powerful reminders that it is time for our community to take the burden of our colleagues who are Black, Indigenous and people of color onto our own collective shoulders, so that it is not they who must again explain, or lead change, or exhort us that Black Lives Matter. Rather, each of us must commit to actions that will reverse an entrenched history of racism. Collectively, with forceful and concerted actions, we can work together to bring about change in our own communities, and within our own institution, by advancing equity, inclusiveness and anti-racism as cornerstones of who we are at Quinnipiac.
To that end, we are announcing Quinnipiac’s Actions to Advance Racial Justice. The actions outlined below are informed by statements, pledges and ideas we heard from both faculty and student groups.
A 10-Point Plan of Action:
We are grateful that Professor Khalilah Brown-Dean has agreed to serve as the Senior Director for Inclusive Excellence, partnering with Vice President Don Sawyer, to champion implementation of Quinnipiac’s Actions to Advance Racial Justice. Greater detail will be released on each of these 10 initiatives, including how we will measure progress. We will continue to include our students, faculty staff and alumni in these critical discussions to ensure that your voices are heard, and that we persist in achieving ambitious change.
The university leadership holds itself accountable for progress on each of the initiatives noted above. But we cannot do it alone, and we should not. These actions require community-wide commitment, efforts and collaboration. We will not achieve the results to which we aspire unless we are passionate and authentic in our desire for systemic change. Quinnipiac has made notable progress in the last few years to become more inclusive. However, the purpose of this letter is not to look back on those accomplishments. Rather, we want to look forward and focus on where we need to do much more to amplify progress.
It is our hope that by building understanding of the roots of racism and nurturing inclusive values during the formative years that students spend with us, Quinnipiac graduates leave our university with greater humility, empathy, compassion, respect for others, and the capacity for dialogue with individuals who have different lived experiences. Our essential purpose is to serve and advance each member of our community through education. It is a purpose that can be an antidote to these times when we are reminded frequently of all that separates us.
Let us come together, let us act to create a more just society, let us lead the way.
Don C. Sawyer III
VP for Equity and Inclusion
To the Quinnipiac community,
Over the past two weeks, people have joined together, raising their collective voices to decry and oppose racial injustice. Communities across the country have taken this difficult moment in our nation’s history to demand change with a sense of frustration and urgency not seen since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Unfortunately, we are also reminded that not everyone has embraced the systemic change that must happen in our community and in our country.
Recently, Quinnipiac was made aware of two social media posts linked to two incoming students. Each case was investigated separately, and we worked hard to determine the facts and context. The university’s senior management team, with input from a variety of voices across campus, deliberated and ultimately decided on a course of action appropriate for each instance, though for privacy reasons, we cannot divulge specifics. However, we are communicating more openly in this instance to explain the core values guiding our thinking, should we face similar situations in the future.
One post showed an individual in blackface. We must recognize that, as our nation works hard to take positive steps toward racial equality for black communities, we cannot tolerate behavior that questions people’s worth, dignity, legitimacy and equality. With history as our guide, we are mindful that regardless of intent, the blackface image is a symbol of a heinous past that evokes pain and the hurt of centuries of prejudice against black people.
Our mission as educators sometimes includes discourse around provocative and even socially difficult constructs and events as we strive to develop capacity in our students to understand nuanced issues and become more enlightened citizens. For some of our students, it is a journey of transformation. However, there are some boundaries, such as a blackface image, that cannot be crossed because these actions are so antithetical to our fundamental values.
The second post made reference to “the Chinese virus” when discussing the negative impact of COVID-19 on seniors’ high school graduations. Let us be clear: such language is offensive, highly inappropriate, and sweeping in its mischaracterization of the cause of the pandemic. It is also a direct echo of the unfortunate confluence of social media with news reports and the current political discourse.
These two instances are forceful reminders that words and images have consequences, that regardless of intent, some forms of expression carry destructive meaning and cause harmful impact because of their historic or symbolic significance. Part of our educational purpose is to create awareness among our community to these sensitivities, and to hold ourselves fully accountable for true equity and inclusivity. The classroom and campus community can be powerful learning labs to practice and reinforce respectful discourse in a space where all groups feel welcomed, supported, and able to safely express their full selves, regardless of their differences and backgrounds.
To the students and alumni who have written to us over the past few days about these social media posts, we invite you to join with us to help turn words into action. We, the leadership team, hold ourselves accountable to achieving results that demonstrate commitment to equity and fairness. That commitment began with inclusive excellence as a pillar of our strategic plan almost two years ago, and in recent months our community came together on a statement of inclusive values.
And we continue to take action. We have begun implementing many necessary changes, such as increased diversity among faculty and the university’s leadership team; we are building bridges to QU for historically underrepresented minority students in high schools and community colleges; we are developing a diversity training curriculum for students, staff, and faculty; and we are exploring how to best address, head-on, the legacy of racism in our country starting with a re-examination of the curriculum for greater presence of racial and social justice content across courses.
We are not naive to think that change happens overnight. Much more must be done on our part, and as a community. We embrace this pivotal moment in our nation’s history to avow that Black Lives Matter, and to stand with our students, alumni, faculty, staff and neighbors in black communities—and in all underrepresented communities—in decrying acts of racism, prejudice and bias. Let us join together in achieving truly meaningful change, where equity and inclusiveness shine as cornerstones of who we are at Quinnipiac.
Judy Olian, President
Jennifer Gerarda Brown, Interim Executive Vice President and Provost
Monique Drucker, VP and Dean of Students
Daryl Richard, VP of Marketing & Communications
Don Sawyer, VP of Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Todd Sloan, VP of Development & Alumni Affairs
Elicia Spearman, General Counsel and VP of Human Resources
Eric Sykes, VP of Enrollment Management
Mark Varholak, VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Bethany Zemba, VP and Chief of Staff
Dear Quinnipiac Family:
I write to you not about COVID-19, but about something more pervasive, more permanent, and even more pernicious. I write today about racism in America.
This week’s murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and so many other terrible acts of violence against people of color demonstrate an inescapable reality: Far too many members of our society are still not treated with the same empathy, kindness, fairness, or justness that they deserve – simply because of the color of their skin.
Bigotry can be subtle and corrosive. It is present when we use words that are insensitive; when we make snap judgments based on appearance; when we presume an understanding of another’s reality that has been borne of a lifetime of experiencing prejudice. I ask myself how this still happens in a country graced with so much good fortune and rich ideals. But to the many people suffering the pain of discrimination, this is no surprise. This is daily life where they encounter exclusion, fear, self-doubt, despair for a lack of opportunity, unequal treatment, and sometimes, sadly, extreme violence.
Each of us bears responsibility to do everything in our powers to change the abhorrent reality confronting so many people. Ordinary actions some of us take for granted – like driving, jogging, playing in the park, visiting a store, or walking at night – can be risky for some members of our community because of systemic and deeply ingrained racism. We must rise up and speak out if we are bystanders to prejudice; we must commit as parents and mentors to educate the next generation for inclusivity and equality; and we must organize to actively protect those who are most vulnerable.
As a university built on inclusive excellence, we hold each person accountable for inclusive behavior, and we encourage courageous action. Our community is one built upon trust, openness and civility, that allows for honest conversations about difficult subjects; one that cares for—and helps—marginalized members of our society.
My call today is for you to personally commit to these behaviors to reverse the legacy of racism in our communities: through your own compassion and commitment, by truly listening and striving to achieve an understanding of another’s reality and circumstances, and to rally for what is right. We cannot stand idle, and we cannot allow evil of any kind against any one of us.
Sadly, our classmates, faculty, staff, family and friends of color are again feeling the unspeakable pain of these events. We stand in solidarity with you. The Quinnipiac family has always been a force of good. Let us lead the way as a beacon of inclusivity and as a voice of change.
Judy Olian, President
You made it! Everyone’s exams are nearly complete, and tomorrow marks the end of the spring semester. You’ve navigated so many unexpected changes and uncertainties these last two months with understanding, compassion and a resilient spirit.
Congratulations to our graduating Bobcats – your QU family joins together to applaud your accomplishments. I’m sending all of you warm thoughts and wishes. Take care of one another, and I can’t wait to see our returning Bobcats on campus this fall.
Judy Olian, President
Dear colleagues and students,
I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are healthy, safe and able to enjoy family time — which is the silver lining in these difficult circumstances. During these stressful times, our Quinnipiac community continues to demonstrate that from adversity rises resilience, from challenge emerges opportunity, and from need comes compassion. I have seen that come to life through the initiatives and care our students, faculty and staff are extending to their local communities, neighbors, and one another. I’m sharing with you some stirring examples of acts of kindness I’ve seen pop up across our QU community nationwide.
Be well, and I hope you have a relaxing weekend.
Judy Olian, President
I hope you were able to have a restful and perhaps enjoyable weekend after so many days of change, anxiety and uncertainty. For all of us, isolating in our homes or at other locations can be lonely and frustrating. I certainly feel for all of you, unable to hang out with your friends or loved ones as you desire.
Over the last few weeks, you have received a variety of communications from me and from the university, providing you with updates on decisions we have made, sharing critical information about your classes and university operations, or reminding you of self-care best practices. This is not one of those emails. Instead, I want to simply say, thank you.
Thank you for understanding the difficult decisions that needed to be made by university leaders and by local, state and federal officials, to protect our collective health and safety. I know that the restrictions, cancellations and postponements have an impact on all of you, and I truly feel your disappointment.
Thank you for your resiliency and spirit in these difficult times as we transitioned to remote learning. Your willingness to continue your learning and to engage with your professors from afar has been truly remarkable.
Thank you for showing your compassion and heart in reaching out to your classmates, teachers or even strangers in your community. The stories of Quinnipiac students giving back in the bleakest of times are heartwarming and a testament to your values and kindness.
Thank you for showcasing the power of our student community and the love you have for Quinnipiac through the videos and virtual tours you shared during the weekend’s Virtual Admitted Student Experience, joined by over 3,000 attendees!
And thank you for being a part of the Quinnipiac family. Our resolve and resilience together will see us through this challenge and will enable our university to thrive in the years ahead.
Please stay safe, take care of each other and your loved ones, and have a great week ahead. Know that we are here for you.
Judy Olian, President
Today, we kick off a month-long celebration of the history and many contributions by the Black American community to our country and culture. February gives us the opportunity to shine a spotlight on many notable people and historic milestones, but it also reminds us how important it is to embrace and celebrate diversity and inclusiveness all year.
At Quinnipiac, we are committed to inclusive excellence, built upon equity. Everyone deserves to be respected and welcomed in our community and to fully thrive at Quinnipiac — intellectually, socially, culturally and athletically.
During Black History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of members of Quinnipiac’s Black American community. We also honor the stories of Black Americans near and far who have led change with courage and a far-reaching vision to lift the lives of members of their community, achieved success in their chosen field – despite barriers – and brought social justice to all corners of society.
Here are a few stories that are particularly relevant to our QU family:
We hope you will participate in the many activities planned throughout the month. We look at this as just the beginning of what will be celebrations of diversity in people’s backgrounds and perspectives throughout the year. The most vibrant communities are those that acknowledge the contributions of, and create a sense of belonging for, all individuals.
Judy Olian, President
Don C. Sawyer, III
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion
A message from Don C. Sawyer III, vice president for equity and inclusion, and Judy Olian, president.Read More
Top executives from Connecticut’s four largest health care providers candidly shared the lessons they’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they’re planning for the uncertainties to come during a virtual forum in October titled “Beyond the Coronavirus Crisis: Change, Innovation, Leadership and Success.”Read More
A message from President Judy Olian.Read More