Dear Campus Community:

As we prepare for a new semester, it is important to pause and reflect on why we return on Tuesday rather than Monday. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebrates the life and legacy of Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King. His remarkable commitment to nonviolent activism to promote human/civil rights, equality and social justice for all inspires us. He offered a message of hope, one fueled by rare personal courage, compassion and humility. He challenged us to be the best that we could be, live our values, to care for and respect others and not to sit passively. He asked that we engage our communities to peacefully build an inclusive and just world. He stated that "true peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice." As we reflect on his legacy, we also celebrate the core values he emphasized: equality, tolerance, courage, truth, love, social justice, compassion, humility forgiveness, and service.

Over the past two years I have been amazed and inspired by the willingness of our campus to embrace challenges, engage in difficult conversations, and forge a productive and healthy path forward. The diversity of our campus and city are tremendous strengths. University life offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. As Dr. King said, "intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education". I cannot imagine a university or city with more opportunity to engage and to make a difference. Many of you are already intensively engaged on our campus and in our community. Encourage others to celebrate the national Martin Luther King Day of Service which challenges Americans to transform the holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of Dr. King. At a time of unparalleled debate nationally around a host of issues, Dr. King's voice and legacy have never been more important. Let me encourage you to find your voice, engage our campus and city, and help us build the inclusive community Dr. King envisioned.

I look forward to seeing you for the start of a new semester next week.

Warm regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor