January is a time for new beginnings as we turn the calendar to a fresh page for 2024, get back into the classroom for the start of the spring semester, and renew our commitment to our personal, academic, and professional goals in the new year. This is also a time for reflection for all of us, as individuals and as a community.
Good afternoon. I am pleased to join all of you this afternoon for WashU’s annual commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the essential work that he did to advance equal human dignity for every person in this country. Thank you to the committee who planned and organized this event for putting together a thoughtful program today.
There’s no question that recent world events have tested the mettle of campus communities at colleges and universities across America. WashU is no exception. The terrorist attack of October 7 and the subsequent turmoil and loss of innocent lives in the aftermath have inflamed more than just the Middle East, including in close-knit communities like ours.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am reflecting on the joys and privileges of being part of this very special Washington University community
Free expression is a cornerstone of WashU as an institution of higher learning. We protect it fiercely. At the same time, we must recognize that it has limits. We will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or threatening behavior.
Like all of you, I have been following the devastating events in Israel and Gaza since this weekend. To say that this is a heart-wrenching tragedy is a gross understatement. The violence perpetrated by Hamas against the Israeli people is beyond horrific; the terrorist acts we have been witnessing are nothing short of heinous. The depravity and inhumanity are simply beyond comprehension.
Welcome to a new academic year! I hope that your summers were full of adventure and renewal, with plenty of time to connect with loved ones and some quiet moments to savor, as well.
To the WashU Class of 2027… welcome home. As we gather this evening, from wherever you have come, and whatever mixed emotions you may be feeling, I want you all to know that you belong here.
Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that will prevent higher education institutions like ours from considering race as a factor in admissions decisions. While we must respect and abide by this decision, it’s important for you to know one thing: Our commitment to cultivating, welcoming, and supporting a diverse student body that includes individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives has notchanged and will not change.
Good morning, Class of 2023! It’s wonderful to see you all gathered here, in front of your loved ones and mentors, to celebrate a truly special milestone.
As the first week of the new semester comes to a close, I want to welcome the entire WashU community back to the rich experience of in-person teaching, research, and scholarship that makes this place so special.
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate our common values of gratitude, generosity, and togetherness. In that spirit, I want to thank you for what you’ve brought to our community this year, and for what you’ve accomplished together in service of the greater good.
I’m horrified and saddened about the unthinkable tragedy that occured this morning at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis. There is no place for gun violence in our schools. My heart is with everyone who is suffering today.
It gives us great pleasure to share the exciting news that Washington University economist Philip H. Dybvig has been awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.
With great joy and anticipation, I welcome you to a new academic year at WashU! As I’ve walked the Danforth Campus over the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of our new students, families, faculty, and staff. It’s such a pleasure to have you here.
Based on current levels of transmission in St. Louis and in consultation with our team of medical advisors, we plan to take the following steps for fall.
While acknowledging that this is a painful moment for many in our society as we grapple with serious moral, philosophical, and deeply personal issues, at the same time we must keep our focus squarely on the mission of the university — research, education, and patient care.
Great universities like ours push the boundaries of currently accepted knowledge and understanding. So, too, do the individuals and groups who comprise them. Lively intellectual conversations are as commonplace as comments about the weather. As chancellor, it’s important that I help cultivate a campus community in which everyone has a voice, the freedom to exercise their rights and duties to speak out against injustice and inequity, and an opportunity to learn from one another without insult or intimidation.
We’re writing with heavy hearts to share the news that one of our students has died. We are offering our full support to her family and those who were close to her, and wanted you to be aware of this devastating loss.
Orli was a bright light. Her gift of composing her ideas into thoughtful and persuasive prose challenged us each to be better and do better.
With great sadness, we’re writing to inform you of the death of one of our students. Our community is strong, but heartbreaking events like this are certainly a test of our resilience.
In December, we wrote to you about a despicable act of vandalism on our campus. The investigation is continuing, but we wanted to provide our campus community with an update at this time on the status of the investigation and the mural itself.
While we may celebrate every January, I know that so many of the people at Washington University and in our St. Louis region pursue Dr. King’s dream 365 days a year by working to advance equality, equity, justice, rest, and joy for Black people, and as Dr. King spoke, for “all God’s children.”
I am so proud of how you care for one another, even while pursuing your own academic and professional goals. Washington University is special in this regard. Let’s continue to prioritize our community’s health and success in the new year.
Late last night we became aware of a despicable act of vandalism on the Danforth Campus. A small group of unknown individuals defaced portions of the beautiful “The Story That Never Ends” mural in the South 40 underpass, painting over the faces of prominent Black figures and adding the name and symbol of a known white supremacist group. This is horrifying and distressing. We’re shocked and saddened by this hateful act on our campus.
Students, colleagues, and friends, I hope you follow my lead and show gratitude through rest and play this Thanksgiving. I am so incredibly grateful for you – not just what you accomplish, but all of what makes you who you are. Let’s celebrate that.
This moment is about the talented students who’ve done the work, served their communities, run the race, crushed the obstacles, and handed it all over with hopeful hearts to Washington University.
The free exchange of ideas is central to a vibrant university. It is a hallmark of our academic community, and it is imperative that everyone here is able to express their views in a respectful environment. Students have the right to express their viewpoints, but they also have the obligation to respect others’ expressions.
Welcome to a new academic year at WashU! Some of you are just starting your journey here; to others, welcome back. And to those of you who never left, particularly our colleagues on the Medical Campus, thank you.
Here at WashU, we have a long history of incredibly robust and diverse religious and cultural communities on campus – Hillel being one of them. We pride ourselves on being a place that is open and inclusive of a diversity of religious thought, beliefs, practices, and expressions.
I acknowledge that each of you has unique plans for this summer. Whether you are returning home, staying here in St. Louis, working, or taking time off — I trust that you can take moments to rest and reflect on the many ways you contribute to this distinctive community.
Words can only do so much to ease the stress and heartache that many of you are feeling. But I do want to take this opportunity to offer my support and remind you that, as a university community, we stand in solidarity with all who are hurting, and we are here for one another, especially in these trying times.
Friends and colleagues, while today we take time to mourn, tomorrow we must continue on our journey forward — together. While the path ahead might still be long, let us use this moment of grief to recommit ourselves to the work ahead and using this community to model for others what the journey toward greater understanding, equity, and inclusion can look like.
While this past year has been painful to say the least, let’s use it as a reminder of the value of our higher education institutions and the crucial purpose we play in developing life-changing interventions and treatments, cultivating globally-minded leaders, and bringing to light the injustices happening in our communities and around the world.
I am writing today to share the good news that, due to the hard work of our entire university community and our improved financial outlook, the Board of Trustees has given approval to resume our salary merit increase program for faculty and staff. We will begin moving forward with this process immediately, with increases going into effect on April 1 for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Indeed, while change is inevitable, the values guiding our decision making and the norms by which we engage in civil discourse remain the same. This semester, may we continue to lift up these values and norms as we work — both individually and collectively — to become the very best versions of ourselves and as we advance our mission to improve lives in service of the greater good.
Democracy is the cornerstone of American society. It is the most fundamental, consequential, and enduring principle of our nation’s history and identity. The events taking place at the U.S. Capitol are unacceptable on every level and represent a threat to our nation. I am shaken and heartbroken. In politics, there will be disagreement. But violence is never the answer.
No matter your circumstances this winter, I truly hope you can take time to reflect on the value you add here at Washington University, throughout the St. Louis region, across the country, and around the world. Even though the holidays look a little different this year, please know that there is one important constant — and that is how grateful I continue to be for you and for this community.
Since June, we have made significant headway toward advancing our goals to address racial inequity at Washington University and in the St. Louis region.
This year — this unprecedented season of life — is not a resting place. While this Thanksgiving we will hopefully take time to rest, the next day we will get back up and keep on going. We will continue to chart a path forward, one with a final destination we do not yet know.
As these examples elucidate, history has proven that times of conflict and uncertainty tend to bring out both the best and worst in humanity. But in this moment — and as members of a community rooted in our mission to improve lives — I challenge each of us not to let this week bring out the worst in us. Instead, let today bring out our best.
Leading up to this election, I want to share a set of community guiding principles that I believe can help guide us toward this vision of what community can and should be — even in the midst of such political polarization. As I outline them below, I hope you’ll notice that they intentionally bring together ideas that are frequently posed as mutually exclusive — in order to remind us that we are a community capable of rising above those dichotomies.
While these things might be true, let us find ways to remain in faith. May we find faith in one another. Faith in this community. Faith in our region. Faith in our healthcare workers. And faith that justice will inevitably prevail.
It is our distinct pleasure to share with you the outstanding news that Charles M. Rice, PhD, a renowned virologist who conducted his seminal work while on the faculty of the School of Medicine, is one of three scientists who received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine earlier today. Rice becomes the 19th Nobel laureate associated with the School of Medicine, and the 25th from Washington University.
No matter where you are and what your role is — you are every bit a member of this community, and we will navigate this uncharted territory together as the distinctive community that has defined Washington University since our founding in 1853. This is my promise to you, and even despite our current circumstances, I look forward to seeing all the ways we will persevere, building on the incredible momentum we already have in place as we pursue our mission to improve lives in service of the greater good.
While our current situation still disheartens me, at the same time I want you to know how hopeful I am that we will come out of this crisis even stronger than before. And, as I’ve said before, that’s because of you — the people who make this institution so unique and distinctive.
Using our mission and the health and well-being of members of our community as central guiding principles, Washington University will work hard to choose wisely the policy issues on which we decide to take a stand.
The passage of Amendment 2 is a tremendous victory for a quarter-million Missourians who no longer have to live in fear of getting sick or hurt because they will now have healthcare coverage when they need it.
Your vote tomorrow could help nearly a quarter-million vulnerable Missourians gain access to healthcare and, in the process, bring more than a billion dollars of our tax dollars home each year. A simple step, a vast reward for Missouri.
As the leaders of two of this region’s major research universities, we cannot sit idly by as the August 4 election draws near and not speak to a critical opportunity in front of us. It is time to act and expand Medicaid.