Hamline News

A Message from President Miller

There are times when mere words are not enough to convey the deepest feelings of our hearts. I believe we face such a time today. My heart goes out to George Floyd and his family, Ahmaud Arbery and his family, and all who experience violence and differential treatment every single day.

We are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 has exposed the racial and economic disparities that exist in our country. It has subjected us all to immeasurable fear, sadness, and grief. We grieve with our friends, neighbors and loved ones who have lost family members to COVID-19 or who still grapple with its effects. We grieve with our students, faculty and staff who have lost personal connections with each other as well as with the university we all love.

And now, we grieve with our community as we remember George Floyd and too many others who have died in police custody. We grieve with our friends and neighbors in the Midway neighborhood who have lost their businesses and livelihoods in the protests. We do not condone these acts of violence, yet we know that desperation, fear, injustice, and feelings of being left behind can often lead people to do the unthinkable. We, at Hamline, have an important role to play in lessening these feelings. We can act in ways that bring about change, that support each other and that aid our neighbors. Hamline can and does play a vital role in helping people learn to live and work with each other. We have a moral obligation to educate all and stand against those acts that continue to divide rather than unite us. 

At this time, though protests are occurring in the Midway area, Hamline’s campus remains intact. This is due to the quick and decisive actions of Melinda Heikkinen, Director of Public Safety, and her team. They had a plan and effectively implemented it. The campus was shut down on Thursday afternoon and remained closed on Friday. Those students who remain on campus are safe and our property is undamaged.

Yet even as we absorb the enormity of the problems plaguing our country, we must not lose sight of the fact that there will still be a community—at Hamline, in the Midway, in Minnesota, in our nation—to support after all is said and done. The time of grief will eventually give way to a new day, but what kind of day will we accept? I hope it is not a repeat of today. I hope our new day will come with a newfound understanding and appreciation of our commitment to each other, regardless of race, and our readiness to defeat those policies, habits, and actions that negatively affect us all—those that divide us. There will still be people who are affected by racism. 

At this time, I am drawn to the wise words of Martin Luther King, who spoke so eloquently about the power of love to heal. In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he said:

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

We must believe that right will prevail. We must continue to strive to be certain that it does prevail. And above all, we must realize that the work of Hamline University will be more important than ever in the coming days. As we have always done, let us rally around our institution, and around our friends and neighbors in the Midway community in our time of need, and let us work together to rebuild that community over the long term.

As Dr. King said, the truth is both powerful and unarmed. My passionate wish is that we remember the truth of his words as we search for answers. Let us support those harmed by racism even as we shield the innocents who are caught up in its effects.

Peace must prevail. Love must prevail. I will continue to do everything in my power to help Hamline University lead the way along the difficult, winding path toward that goal.

I hope you will join with me.

President Fayneese Miller Ph.D.
Hamline University

5/29/2020