Message from the Chair

Dr. Sherrilene Classen speaking to an audience, the American Flag is displayed in the background

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

I am very much troubled, as I am sure you are too– by the recent killing of Mr. George Floyd. The heinous circumstances surrounding his unrightfully suffering and subsequent death are inconceivable, inhumane and unacceptable. This act is a manifestation of deleterious, derogative, demeaning and destructive forces inherent to racism, ethnocentrism, prejudice, and white supremacy. The image of the police officer’s knee on the throat of a man incapable of defending himself, pleading for help, suffering, and slowly dying–now so engrained in our consciousness, depicts a deep divide of oneness, a violation of concern for others, and is in direct opposition with the core ideologies of humanity–  and of us being extensions of creation’s generosity and love.

We are all connected—and what we do (or don’t do), or allow to occur (or not allow), affects everyone. As such, I am definitively and unequivocally condemning this occurrence and its outcome as a wrong, unjust criminal act embedded in implicit biased, aggression, and hatred.  I am also condemning the mismanagement in trying to solve this horrific act. We cannot and will never to be able to resolve force with force. Force always creates counter-force; its effect is to polarize rather than unify, to create a win/lose dichotomy, and because someone loses every time, enemies are created all the time. Constantly faced with enemies, force requires continued defense—and defensiveness is costly, harmful, not sustainable, and not conducive to resolve.

Instead of force, we are all called to tap deep into our power—those heart-seated virtues and values that when activated help us to uplift, to dignify, and to ennoble.  This power is inarguable and self-evident—and not subject to proof. This power signifies that honor is preferable to dishonor, constructive is preferable to destructive, life is more precious than death, and faith and trust are preferable to doubt and cynicism. This horrific landmark event is a call for all of us to tap deep into our power which underlies dignified self-coherence, unified social coherence, and ultimate universal coherence. This power is meaningful, proactive, life giving, and inspirational. This same power has worked in my life and in yours—to call us to pursue a noble profession where we can make a positive difference, facilitate, empower, enact, create, resolve, contribute, uplift, and nurture the human spirit to act, to be, to become, and to belong.

Right now, our spirits stand naked in time for all to see—and every one of us, yes–every one of us, is accountable to be, to do, to act, and to become advocates of truth and facilitators of justice. It is our charge to ensure that we do our best to help co-create a community or society where we do not live in fear or ignorance or disillusionment—but in a community or society where we belong and share and celebrate the self-evident truths and unalienable Rights articulated in the Declaration of Independence— which are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Join me in our commitment to be visionaries of means, not just dreamers of end, in our communities—so we can committedly work towards restoring human dignity, promoting social justice, and uplifting every man/woman/and child of every color, race, religion, ability level, or orientation – to celebrate Life, to experience Liberty, and to thrive in Happiness.


Dr. Sherrilene Classen