To: Members of the University Community
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President, and Daniel Diermeier, Provost
Subject: Fall Welcome
Date: October 1, 2019
As the new academic year begins, we welcome new and returning faculty, students, staff, researchers, lecturers, and those who are visiting the University.
The beginning of the academic year affords an opportunity to reflect on the enduring values of the University and how those values are manifest in evolving ways over the years. In recent years, we have spoken forcefully and frequently about the essential importance to the very nature of the University of Chicago of our long-standing values of open inquiry, free expression, and embrace of ongoing intellectual challenge. This discussion took on added salience as these values became increasingly at risk across the country.
Today we address another critical commitment of the University: to having a community that is open and inclusive to all segments of the nation and the world, which in turn amplifies the nature of our intellectual environment. We often refer to the University as an intellectual community, and it is important to recognize both components of that expression – that we are defined by a commitment to an ambitious and challenging intellectual environment, and by a sustained effort to build a community in which this environment can take full shape. In that context, we reaffirm in the strongest terms the University’s values of openness and inclusion, and our dedication to welcoming people of all backgrounds and nations.
This University has long recognized that there is great talent in every population waiting for opportunities to be fully realized – specifically, individuals who can greatly benefit from and contribute to the University’s particular intellectually challenging environment. The wide-ranging participation of individuals from all parts of American society, and the involvement of international students and scholars, deeply enriches the discourse on campus and makes us a better and stronger institution.
It is especially important to highlight these convictions in a time marked by isolating and ostracizing rhetoric and actions, both domestically and in much of the world. Such limiting perspectives stand in opposition to the environment we seek on campus, one that reflects the diverse strengths of our nation and of scholars and students from every part of the world. This requires an unwavering commitment to broad inclusion, openness in discourse, embracing of intellectual challenge, and accepting of strong disagreement and diverging perspectives.
The University is renewed every day by the work of all of us on campus – faculty, students, staff, researchers, lecturers, and visitors. We extend our deep thanks to all of you, for your efforts at sustaining the University of Chicago as a place of openness and inclusion in an environment of mutual intellectual challenge and free-flowing discourse. We wish you a stimulating and productive year.
Diversity and Inclusion