President's Message on Charlottesville

President's Message on Charlottesville

Following the events in Charlottesville last week, Dr. Gulley sent out this message to Woodward employees. Touching on the need for education to combat the evil from last weekend, his message was a powerful reminder to our community of the importance of our mission. We've edited lightly for clarity.

Dear Colleagues:

I did not anticipate the need to communicate with you so soon after my remarks at the Opening of School session last week, but the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville compel me to do so this morning. What our country witnessed Friday and Saturday is nothing short of evil on full display. There are not words strong enough to describe and denounce the behavior of the alt-right, KKK, and neo-Nazis. Whatever their aim, their racists views and actions have no place in our democracy. What I found especially stunning, indeed frightening, were the young ages of many of the white supremacists, a suggestion that somewhere along the way education, in part, had failed them.

In my remarks at our Opening of School session, I cited Tom Friedman's book Thank You for Being Late, in which he makes a strong defense for our work at Woodward. He argues that the accelerations unleashed by technology, globalization, and climate change can best be addressed by persons who have been exposed to the liberal arts in a pluralistic setting. He notes that what society requires is for people consciously to practice the Golden Rule: do to others what you would have done to you. Or the Golden Rule as expressed by the Babylonian Talmud: that which you find reprehensible do not do to others. Friedman's words should be speaking loudly to us this morning.

What we witnessed this past weekend has emboldened my belief about how vital our work at Woodward is. We are blessed to be a beautifully and richly diverse community with difference lived in many varieties. We have not been perfect, but we are on a deliberate course toward inclusion that few other educational institutions can demonstrate.

Thursday we welcome just under 2,700 students who are being entrusted to us for their education. They are due a safe and welcoming environment where they can be fully who they are–respected, valued, indeed loved. The charge before us, whatever our role at Woodward, is to embrace the other and to treat him or her as we would like to be treated. Respecting ourselves, each other, our school, and our world is the Woodward Way. I am confident that if we live our lives by this philosophy, we will be a model to Atlanta and beyond of what it means to be a caring and ethical community. Thank you for committing yourselves to this important and necessary work. Our students and our democracy are depending on us.