Major Addresses

August 2017

Dear Members of the Alvernia Family,

Like all of you, I have been watching the news with dismay and outrage over tragic, often violent, developments in our country and our world. As members of a Franciscan university community, rooted in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions, we may regret the divisiveness of partisan political rhetoric, but we must condemn unequivocally racism and bigotry of all kinds.

Recent events underscore for me the significance of our distinctive Franciscan heritage and the core values of service, humility, peacemaking, contemplation, and collegiality that inspire and guide us all. Through these core values, we enrich lives, inform views of the world, serve communities, and prepare students, as expressed in our Mission Statement, to be “reflective professionals, engaged citizens, and ethical leaders with moral courage.” Since our founding by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, Alvernia has been committed to a rigorous and inclusive academic environment where learning and growth are strengthened by our myriad cultures, faiths, and views. We are fortunate to be part of a community that strives to live, learn and work together while treating each other with kindness, empathy, and respect.  

Now more than ever, it is critical to proclaim these values and our belief that the rich tapestry forming our campus community (and our country) calls us to celebrate the goodness and dignity of all human beings. We are far from perfect, but as a university community we must ensure that we agree and disagree, debate and question, and even argue in ways that are self-reflective, humbly open-minded to other perspectives, and respectful of all people. 

Teaching our students that peaceful assembly and protest are rights to hold dear and exercise in ways that foster the good of the entire community is an example of what we call “real-world” learning experiences.  And, as expressed in the Student Code of Citizenship, it arises from our distinct spiritual heritage: “to be Franciscan is to respect the dignity of each human person and all creation; to be open to the world and its diversity of cultures, faiths, traditions, races, and peoples; to honor right relationships (by which is meant a harmony in all human relationships, as well as with God and with all of creation); and to seek peace through action for justice.”

Let me ask you to join me in reaffirming our “strong and consistent stance against discrimination and intolerance of all kinds,” as expressed in our initial Diversity and Intercultural Plan approved unanimously by our Board of Trustees. Let us join together in rejecting any agenda advanced through the expression of hate and bigotry.  And let us pledge that, in this complex interconnected world, we at Alvernia will view the open expression of both our shared Franciscan heritage and our diverse cultures and ideas as resources to renew and strengthen our university community, our democracy, and our global community.

Peace and All Good,

Tom Flynn

President and Professor of English

major addresses

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