I would like to welcome you to the beginning of another academic year at Indiana University. In a few days, tens of thousands of students from across Indiana, the nation and the world will be starting classes at a university that has — for nearly 200 years — steadfastly pursued its enduring mission of excellence in education, research and engagement in the life of our communities.
Our determination to be the best public university we can be is reflected in the composition of our student body. The Class of 2021 is one of IU's largest, most academically accomplished and most diverse classes ever. Our determination is also reflected in the exceptional work that you do every day to educate and support our students; to contribute to the economic development of local communities, states and the nation; and to pursue research and scholarship that open up new vistas of understanding and enhance the quality of life for all.
Consistent, too, with our core missions is the role we all continue to play in preparing students for citizenship, a lifetime of public service and active participation in a rich, productive and public-spirited civil society that binds all of us together as one. This has never been a more important responsibility. As educators, we must always insist that our students — and we ourselves — seek to understand, weigh and assess the ideas, assertions and arguments that come from other perspectives, other traditions, other disciplines and other beliefs. We must also insist that there is absolutely no room at IU for discrimination or harassment based on anyone’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.
These values are the bedrock of who we are at Indiana University. Hence, we find the recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Va., to be deeply disturbing and concerning. We extend our most heartfelt sympathies to those affected by the violent actions in that community, and especially to the families of the three individuals who were killed. IU stands in solidarity with citizens and groups across our nation who oppose a supremacist ideology of bigotry, hatred, violence, intimidation and assault on our liberties. This loathsome ideology is completely antithetical to our values as an educational community. We are an institution committed to fostering civil discourse and creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds.
As we prepare for another year, we must be vigilant in ensuring that we are providing our students with a teaching and learning environment that strongly encourages tolerance, inclusion, civil discourse and respect for others. We must also encourage our students to learn more about other perspectives, customs and traditions, open their minds to new ways of understanding and contribute to strengthening a culture of caring and human dignity on all of our campuses.
Together we can contribute to a diverse, engaged and multicultural academic community that is a model for higher education, our state and society at large, dedicating ourselves with passion to make this a reality.
In recent years, we have made extraordinary progress toward meeting the evolving needs of our students through the establishment of new schools, academic programs and services; adopting vigorous policies and programming toward making an IU education as affordable and accessible as possible; addressing the Grand Challenges facing our state, nation and world; strengthening our world-class physical infrastructure and preserving our beautiful and sustainable campuses; and ensuring our university enters its third century as one of the best public research universities in the world as we realize more of the goals of our Bicentennial Strategic Plan.
I would like to thank each of you for your outstanding daily work on behalf of IU. Your collective talents, creativity, energy and dedication to this vital work make me proud to call you colleagues.
My very best wishes for a successful and productive 2017-18 academic year.