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Events of last week at the University of Missouri, Yale University and other campuses have focused us all on the sometimes difficult realities of life at many colleges and universities. We would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to initiate a constructive dialogue about diversity and inclusion. I believe we must constantly ask ourselves if we as a campus community are living the core values we espouse and whether our culture as a place for learning is one that is built on mutual respect and support.

Auburn has a commitment to support and enhance the diversity of our campus. This commitment is grounded in the belief that a comprehensive public university must serve the common good and that embracing varied experiences and perspectives strengthens our learning environment and enhances the quality of our lives and programs.

In recent days, Provost Tim Boosinger and I had the opportunity to meet with student leaders representing several groups—including the Black Student Union, the National Society of Black Engineers, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Student Government Association—to hear their concerns and discuss ideas for positive change. While Auburn maintains distinction across many areas, it is plain that we have the capacity to do better by encouraging a broader campus dialogue about the civic and educational virtues of respect and inclusion.  

Over the next weeks and months, the Provost, Vice President for Student Affairs and I will conduct a comprehensive review of our diversity programs. We will ask campus leaders and a broad spectrum of students to help us find opportunities to strengthen existing initiatives and encourage new ones. We intend to identify and eliminate barriers that needlessly hinder members of our university community.

We each have a responsibility to protect the safety, security and dignity of every member of our community. We are a family at Auburn. When anyone is disrespected or threatened, we are all disrespected or threatened. We must care, we must demonstrate our care and we must act on our care.

I look forward to a continued dialogue on these issues, and I ask for your support.

Jay Gogue