Full Audio from President’s Fall 2016 Mid-Semester Briefing

Posted on 11/11/2016 4:26:30 PM

On the afternoon of November 11, 2016, President Michael Driscoll presented a mid-semester briefing. A full audio recording of the briefing is available above.

Later that afternoon, he sent the following excerpt of the briefing to students, faculty, and staff:

In my speech at the opening of the academic year, I introduced the idea of doing things the IUP Way and said, “We’ve proven that we can work together to get our own house in order,” and “We at IUP have the ability to make a big impact on the world and make it a better place, and together, we can do this.”

That doesn’t mean that we all agree on everything—far from it. But the IUP Way means that we know how to disagree with respect and civility, that we can discuss and debate issues without resorting to name-calling and threats, and that we can live together after the debate. The IUP Way is what sets us apart from everyone and everywhere else, and is what will enable us to make a bigger impact on the world and to improve ourselves.

I know that rising to the IUP Way is very challenging, and it’s not enough to follow the IUP Way on just the easy issues, or to try it for a day and expect that a thorny problem will be solved. Acting in the IUP Way can’t be a check box. It must be a way of life. Yet all of human history shows how hard it is for individuals and communities to set aside their egos and to hold their worst nature in check.

As we stand here in the shadow of the most uncivil presidential campaign in at least my lifetime, and of the first faculty strike in the history of IUP and the State System, I think we can agree that this is especially challenging. But here at IUP, we can do this! We know it is so because we have done it before. We’ve proven that we can work together on difficult and uncomfortable issues in the most collegial and respectful manner.

Unfortunately, there are places where we are falling short of the IUP Way, and a few people have suggested I not talk about these in detail. After all, things are going well at IUP, so let’s focus on the good to set the right example. It’s certainly right to hold up all the good work we are doing together, but I wouldn’t be true to my values or to the expectations I have for myself if I didn’t delve deeper and tell you the truth about where we are not living up to our expectations for our community.

Since Tuesday’s presidential election, the following have been reported at IUP, some multiple times: someone calling a co-worker names because of who they voted for, a faculty member spending the start of a class bashing a presidential candidate or the people who voted for them, a student bullied because they revealed who they voted for on social media, threats made against LGBT members of our community, and the defacing of property. There are probably other similar things that haven’t come to my attention.

These statements and actions don’t represent who we are, or the diverse and inclusive community we aspire to become—they are simply not acceptable.

I ask you to remember that disrespect and incivility, no matter how small or large, no matter how seemingly inconsequential or how important, don’t solve anything, enhance our understanding, or help our students to become the innovative leaders our world needs. They only breed anger and hatred, suspicion and fear. Disrespect and incivility are the antithesis of the reasoned debate, the academic freedom, and the diversity and inclusion we hold dear. We must always aspire to the behavior demanded by the IUP Way.

We’ve proven again and again that we can work together on difficult and uncomfortable issues in the most collegial and respectful manner. Our collegial and open-minded approach, and our mutual trust allow us to not be afraid to talk about and solve difficult and uncomfortable issues together.

I call upon each and every one of you to reflect on our core values and ideals, to so order your own words and actions, and to hold each other accountable to our shared expectations and aspirations for this community of higher learning. I know that we can do this the right way—the IUP Way.

Please remember that if you are concerned about your safety, call the police. If you want to talk with someone or to get involved, there are many options such as the Office of International Education, LGBTQ+ Support, the Office of Social Equity, and the newly established Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement.