Dear UM Family,
As we prepare to welcome students to campus for fall semester, we do so in a world that is dramatically changed from only a few months ago. The pandemic has impacted the ways we interact with one another and focused our attention on protecting the most vulnerable among us. Likewise, the killing of George Floyd has caused us to examine our hearts and our actions as we confront the issue of racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country.
This week, I received an email from a recent graduate who loves her university, but also urges us to do more. She asked that we send a statement saying that we care and show people that Christianity believes in unity. I told her I disagreed with one thing she said – I feel it is not enough to “say” that we care. Actions speak louder than words. To that end, this fall we will form a diversity committee of students, faculty and staff to assess diversity on campus and recommend initiatives. Before the COVID situation forced us to move online, I had met with local government and school officials about partnerships that would lead to more minority students from our community at the university. We have been discussing partnerships where our faculty would go to these schools to help assist their students in preparing for college. I look forward to resuming those conversations, and initiating many more.
The world is a broken place, and there is much to do. Yet in the midst of this brokenness, there is Hope. Jesus gave us the guiding principle for us all to follow. He never said that we would be counted among His followers based on our political party, the color of our skin, or our economic status. In John 13:35, He said we would be known as His disciples if we love one another. I am troubled that so many in our world only deal in hate. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beautifully expressed the futility of this path when he noted that “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The love that the world needs today comes from the sincere desire to be like Jesus.
May we never as a nation or as a university think that we have perfected Christ-like love. The goal of the framers of the United States Constitution was to form a “more perfect” Union. This is still a work in progress. My prayer is that we all do our part in Christ-like love to keep pressing toward that goal.
The University of Mobile exists to shine the light of Christ’s love throughout this broken world. We do this through all alumni, students, faculty, staff and supporters who live out this belief.
We do this through you.
Lonnie Burnett, PhD
University of Mobile