To The Kettering Community:
I hope this finds you well.
For many of us, the past year has been one defined by an unprecedented set of challenges and crises. We have been fearful for our safety and that of those around us and for whom we care deeply. Families and friends may have been visited by personal tragedy and hardship. Inescapable images of the reprehensible treatment and death of innocents focused our national attention on social justice, racism, fairness, and inclusion which blossomed into protests in our streets as members of our own community also reminded us that much of this work remains to be done on our campus, too.
At our University, operations became far more challenging, and required extraordinary flexibility, commitment, and understanding on the part of all in our community. All the while, our national dialog became more polarized and caustic, as many found more success in driving wedges than building bridges. Opportunities to understand the lived experiences of others were all too often missed in favor of fits of performative outrage. Good-faith waned and mutual understanding was its first casualty.
All of this leaves us feeling unsettled — and unbalanced — feelings amplified by COVID-19 mandated restrictions and the social strains they have produced.
But as the calendar turned toward the New Year last week, and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine began, if you were like me, you felt a small sense of relief and hope for the New Year. Which is why I know that many of us watched the events at our Nation’s Capitol yesterday with particular shock, sorrow, and anger, followed by a sense of uncertainty about what the future holds. These events were a reminder, in stark relief, that our democracy, which we often take for granted, is fragile, and that the polarization and coarsening of the national debate is deeply harmful and tribalizing. The sight of a violent mob taking over the halls and chambers of the Peoples’ House is repugnant and will affect us as a nation, a community and as individuals for some time to come.
This is certainly a time for civic self-reflection. There is no way for us to predict what will happen in the coming days and months, and there are no easy answers to many of the questions posed by these events. Our nation is strong and resilient, though, and at its core, it is based upon inviolable respect for the will of the people and the rule of law. Affronts to our constitutional processes and the peaceful transfer of power are abhorrent and will not stand. Our duty in response is to recommit to being active participants in — and guardians of — our democracy.
These times have already been burdensome on our mental health individually and as a community, and other challenges certainly lie ahead for us. Please take advantage of the counseling, advising and other resources at the University if you need support. Seek that support — either within your personal circles or at the University.
I am and remain deeply proud of the Kettering community, our faculty, staff, and students. I am supremely confident in the resilience of our University community and the importance of the commitment we make to find ways to improve our University, our community, our nation, and the world. I am optimistic for our future, and for the success of this institution, our students, graduates, and employees.
We have a very important mission and a purpose, and we graduate some of the most capable and impactful citizens this country has ever produced. Our graduates make the world a better place; they become part of the solution, of making this a better and more perfect union and society. Ours is important work, and I am honored to share it with you.
As we begin our winter term amidst new and recurring challenges it is important to remember these things because they sustain us. In doing so, we remain true to and guided by our values as cornerstones of how we treat each other. And because of that I know the future of this University is bright, and our best days truly do lie ahead.
Dr. Robert K. McMahan
President • Kettering University