Our Campus, Our Community, and Our Country

Open Letter to the Campus Community from President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.

Dear Students:

Highlanders are known for their caring and compassionate nature. And, I am reaching out today to ask that you serve as exemplary role models for our campus, our community, and our country. With so much turmoil in our nation, we have a unique opportunity to lead by example. To create needed and profound change, I ask that you join me in denouncing racism and reporting discrimination.

As an African American, I have witnessed racism throughout my life. I was discriminated against during my childhood, teenage years, and college experience. The individuals who doubted my worth and questioned my ability fueled my desire to reach my goals and support others in reaching their goals. Today, acts of discrimination are still very real for me and so many others. As a University President, I am dedicated to empowering others. As a father, I am concerned about the significant and lasting impact on current and future generations.

My personal experience represents just one of the millions of Americans who have experienced first-hand the injustice and intolerance in our society. So many individuals have stepped forward to share their personal stories. These stories remind us that what others say and do have real impacts and, in some cases, tragic outcomes. As a Radford family, we cannot allow others to define who we are, what we stand for, and how we respond. As such, I applaud those who have faithfully supported Black Lives Matter in sharing a peaceful and powerful message for change, as well as hope!

As we move forward together in sharing a united message that Black Lives Matter, I am asking members of Highlander nation to pledge in serving as active and vocal participants by advocating for equality and fairness now and well into the future. I look forward to joining with our passionate students as part of The Bigger Picture March and Rally to be held on the afternoon of September 19, 2020.

To quote a civil rights legend and the late Congressman John Lewis, "Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet." As Highlanders, be committed, be determined, and make a difference!

With Highlander Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.