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Higher Learning Commission - The Leaflet

July 16, 2020

News From BGD

Dear Members,
As we approach the upcoming academic year, much is unknown. The first six months of 2020 brought us a global pandemic, followed by a reminder of the ills of injustice and racism. Both remain prominent concerns impacting our health, safety, security and individual rights.
The Higher Learning Commission is acutely aware of the many challenges facing our member colleges and universities. You have made heroic efforts to adapt to an unforeseen and life-threatening disease. That battle continues. We recognize there are many unknowns and circumstances that will impact higher education in this country. During HLC’s recent board meeting in June, time was dedicated to discussing all the implications for our industry and for accreditation. It is, indeed, quite daunting.
HLC is also aware that our members are simultaneously battling another disease, the one of racism. Those of us affiliated with HLC want to express our appreciation and gratitude for the educators who are doing everything possible to find the teachable moments in these extremely trying times. Through the individual missions of the HLC member colleges and universities, we encourage you to continue the important work toward eradicating the equity divide and educating your students in ways to mitigate the ignorance that ignites racism.
Society is seeing two kinds of masks worn today, one to prevent spreading a virus and one that hides the fear and sadness of those who have been oppressed. With recent activities it is becoming increasingly clear that the second mask is wearing thin, exposing the understandable outrage of being marginalized and mistreated.
Higher education plays no small role in this environment. As members of the academy, there is one constant. America’s higher education system, despite any of its shortcomings or frailties, stands solidly behind freedom of expression and changing the world one learner at a time. Our campuses are the places where thoughts are formed and revisited across the course of a lifetime. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently stated, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education."
It is important to remember there will eventually be a vaccine for the coronavirus, but there is no vaccine for racism. Empathy, shared understanding and real actions are the only path to changing the course of decades of social injustice. Standing silent is akin to contributing to the problem. Silence has never been the choice of higher education.
As you enter the second half of a year that many of us want to forget, know the real power you have to weigh in and make a difference. Our universities are working hard to find a cure for COVID-19. Imagine the future of our country and your students if we also found a path to social equity. Stay strong, healthy and determined to make that difference.

Barbara Gellman-Danley, President