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.”
As always, our highest priority continues to be the health, safety and well-being of our campus community. With that in mind, we’re writing to share a number of changes that will impact our return to campus for the spring semester.
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.
Let us be clear. We are strongly opposed to this change in policy, and to any and all actions that would undermine the ability of international students to come to the U.S., or remain in the country to pursue their research and scholarship.
We believe strongly in this campaign because of its potential to expand access to health care for Missouri residents who desperately need it.
This is the right move for our economy, especially at a time when even more people will be out of work and needing assistance. But it is also a critical step in our too-long journey toward a more just society.
Our path forward includes challenges that we wholeheartedly embrace. To get this right in the long run requires time for thoughtful consultation and planning. The kind of enduring transformation that is called for and necessary here will require each of us to play a vital role, and it is critically important that we do this work together – establishing a clear vision of an equitable future, identifying the specific steps we need to take, and holding ourselves accountable to our commitments.
Dear Washington University community, Racism in all forms – particularly police violence toward Black people – is a plague on our society and we must all continue to listen, engage in self-reflection, and commit to doing real work if we hope to make progress and enact meaningful, systemic change. Along with other university leaders, I […]
As Chancellor, I can promise you that we will do our best to ring George Floyd’s name as loudly as we possibly can to ensure the arc bends toward justice. And we will not stop ringing until justice wins.
The ongoing racial violence that we are witnessing against people of color is nothing short of devastating. As a community, we are united in our commitment to justice and racial equity.
Greetings from campus, and thanks for inviting me to join you as you celebrate another year as McDonnell International Scholars. I’m sorry I’m unable to attend in person, though I still wanted the chance to share my congratulations and best wishes. First, congratulations on finishing up this unprecedented spring semester with your heads held high. […]
Today, we are carrying this ethos of civic duty forward as we do our part to flatten the curve, slow the spread of COVID-19, and deliver world-renowned education, research, and patient care for the sake of our community, the nation, and the world.
These are some of the values we hold dearly at Washington University and the values that have given us the firm foundation we have in place. And right now, these values are fueling the work we do to flatten the curve, mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and do our best to care for those who are most vulnerable in the midst of this health, humanitarian, and economic crisis.
I for one am proud of the immense progress we are making to invest in industries that align so closely with our mission, with a strong tendency to shy away from those that might serve to detract from it. And moving forward, we will continue to make even greater strides to invest in businesses with positive ESG practices. Because of the nature of our partnership with WUIMC, their long-term horizon approach to investment, as well as their engagement model, we’re confident we will continue on this path.
That’s what days like today and tomorrow are all about, as we use this opportunity to listen, learn, and reflect on our past as we use our collective voices to make way for the future. This is not only paramount for us as a community that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also as we double down on our role, impact, and connection “In St. Louis and For St. Louis.”
In summary, WUIMC is a separate entity accountable to its own board, but working in tandem with the university. Therefore, it has its own oversight and a lot of autonomy, but also a lot of rigidity in terms of the way it functions and allocates assets. Because its main purpose is to support the university’s mission in perpetuity, WUIMC’s investment decisions tend to align closely with our university’s most deeply held values.
During this time, I urge each member of our community to see one another’s humanity and to extend compassion and empathy to those most impacted. Our institutional strength lies in our diversity and the essential qualities of affirmation, equity, and inclusion — and it is especially important during times like these that we embody and model these values.
Through this first blog post in a three-part series, I hope this gives you a bit clearer picture into what an endowment is and how we use it at Washington University. In two more future installments, I plan to outline the history of the endowment, where it comes from, how the payout is spent, how the endowment is managed, and how our investments align positively with the university’s mission — including a deeper dive into our socially responsible investment principles. Stay tuned!
This is the kind of place I aspire for us to be — not because it’s good for appearances or it’s good for politics. But simply because it’s the right thing to do. Once again, as Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
As we begin the spring semester and settle back into our regular routines, I want to take the opportunity to share with you some important updates about our ongoing commitment to improving safety and security around our campuses.
Undoubtedly, your time here was worth far more than any Google search could ever provide — a tangible response to the popular search “Why is education important?” While studying at Washington University, you gained knowledge, understanding, tools, experiences, and relationships that have immense promise to change the world. And now that this particular chapter is ending, it is our greatest hope that you leave this place feeling ready and prepared to continue your passionate and noble search for knowledge and truth.
I wish you the very best as you wrap up the weeks ahead. While this semester showed no signs of stopping, it will soon be time for us to take a brief respite so we can recharge and return with even greater energy and force. I hope you enjoy a restful holiday, and may you come back ready to help us move even further along our path.
This week especially, I want to touch on that last part: Gratitude. I believe gratitude is something we don’t give out enough in our current social context. To me, it’s an important starting point as we think about shifting our own personal experiences and the experiences of our communities and society writ-large. That said, I can think of several things for which I’m particularly grateful this year. One of the biggest ones being you — our Washington University community.
Missouri is facing a health-care crisis. Far too many residents in our state cannot get needed medical care because they lack health insurance. This is why Washington University is backing the Healthcare for Missouri initiative – an effort to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover more Missourians.