President Dr. Dennis Encourages Thoughtful Reflection and Discussion

For several weeks we have waited with anticipation for the outcome of the Grand Jury investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. On our campus we have discussed various aspects of this tragedy in both a local and national context. Race relations have re-emerged as one of the most critical issues of our time. We have had several speakers, group discussions, meetings and one-on-one dialogues on this and related topics. Important questions are being discussed that will shape the future of the St. Louis region and our society. These questions and many others must be understood and addressed and we must work to ensure that all members of our society have a real opportunity to lead satisfying and fulfilling lives. These discussions are difficult and at times quite painful for many of us, but they must continue.

McKendree has a student body and faculty and staff that come here from throughout the world. We have differing opinions on a multitude of topics and racial concerns are no different. We have each had unique experiences which have helped to shape our own perspectives. We will not all agree on what needs to be done but we must listen and learn from one another. In the days ahead I hope we will continue to do what universities were developed for as places where we question, we listen, we investigate and we effectively communicate our findings. Ultimately, we will be guided by what we have learned. Our role as an institution is to facilitate opportunities for learning to take place.

I ask that our faculty and staff continue to use your positions as educational leaders to engage our students in civil discourse on these topics. Our goal is to use our highly regarded institution as a place where we can openly discuss the sensitive issues of our time. We will do this in a safe environment filled with mutual understanding and respect. This is a time when supporting one another is a requisite for a caring campus.

In the days ahead I ask each of you to be reflective about the kind of society you wish to live in and how you will accomplish that goal. What will you bring to the discussion that will benefit us all?

I believe that each of us has something positive to offer and I hope to live in a society where all individuals are treated fairly and evaluated on the basis of their individual merits. Our challenge is to give “voice” to the many good ideas that each of us have to contribute. I expect the McKendree community to be thoughtful, respectful and filled with the desire to make our world a better place. Together we can do this and I look forward to learning with each of you!


James M. Dennis
McKendree University