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A Message to the Bradley Family from President Standifird

June 5, 2020

Dear Bradley Family, 

I have received strong and appropriate feedback to my initial statement released Tuesday. First and foremost, I regret and apologize for the statement and its unintended impact and message. It was weak, insensitive and most importantly not a reflection of my personal values and beliefs. My intent was not to distract from the global and justified outrage resulting from the horrible deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless names of other Black people in our country at the hands of systemic racism. My intent was to promote community and I missed the mark. I believe Black Lives Matter and these deaths are unjustifiable. I want to acknowledge the pain, frustration and sadness that accompany events such as these, especially for our Black students who experience racism. Racial violence is the real issue, and I want to publicly denounce such, especially understanding the history of racism that has negatively impacted Black communities and other minoritized populations. Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I hear you and I am listening. 

Your voices and stories matter. To our Bradley community, I have read your comments on Facebook and Twitter (#BlackatBradleyU) and others directly shared with me about how students have experienced racism at Bradley. I want to be clear: Racism at Bradley is unacceptable, will not be tolerated and will be addressed. Your stories demonstrate our past efforts in supporting Bradley’s Black students and the Black community were insufficient. We will do better.

Moving forward, I assure you I am going to continue to listen, learn and most importantly, advocate for an inclusive community at Bradley. I will continue working with our students, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, our alumni affinity groups, our local community and the Board of Trustees. These are individuals I have talked with over the past few days and I look forward to continued conversation. As our outstanding and courageous Black student leaders articulated in their letter, the responsibility of informing and educating others is not their sole responsibility. It is our university’s collective responsibility. To do so we will listen, educate and act to be a catalyst for change along with our Black organizations, our Black students, and our faculty, staff, alumni and community members. 

It has also been made clear to me Bradley is not doing enough. I have heard you and my first three immediate steps are as follows. There will be more.

  1. Create a Racial Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group of internal and external partners who will provide input and work closely with me to identify future actions. This committee will be led by Glenn Ross MBA ’84 and a current student. The committee will also include the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, additional students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.
  2. Provide upgrades to the Garrett Center, which houses the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This is an important space on campus and based on my tour of the facility, does not appropriately reflect the importance of diversity and inclusion on our campus. Upgrades will include, but are not limited to, technological enhancements, better lighting and other improvements to the physical spaces. This work will begin immediately and parts will be completed by the time students arrive in August.
  3. Partner with Peoria Public Schools, including Quest Charter Academy, to offer six need-based, full-tuition scholarships annually that will continue to strengthen and enhance the diversity of Bradley’s student body and student experience.  

These are our first steps and I will provide an update on them by June 30. More actions will follow as we receive information from the advisory group and as I continue to listen and learn more about Bradley. We will be intentional in creating a more inclusive environment on our campus. I know change doesn’t happen overnight, but I want you to know we are committed to change. I ask for your patience and assistance with this process

Lydia Moss Bradley is rightfully celebrated as an American icon who helped forge a new path for women and all Americans. We must match her courage, strength and perseverance as we set a new path for our university. A path where all people of color feel supported and listened to; a path where all students regardless of background feel safe and cared for at our university. Thank you to those who took the time and effort to respond to my first message. I value your feedback as we work hard to create a more inclusive environment, a university for all. We owe you better, and will deliver.

Sincerely,

Stephen Standifird

President, Bradley University