I know that many of you in our community have followed the discourse surrounding the recent Supreme Court decision overturning affirmative action in college admissions. We have striven for and succeeded for many years in having a very diverse student body. Because we exist in the heart of Memphis, one of the most diverse cities in the country, we have never needed to overtly consider the race of our applicants for admission. The Lasallian mission has always guided us to have “respect for all persons” and to advocate for an “inclusive community.” They were the principles that led Brother Terence McLaughlin to admit Jesse Turner Jr. to this campus 60 years ago and to make CBHS the first racially integrated high school in the city of Memphis. 

I like to think that our adherence to the Five Core Lasallian Principles of Faith in the Presence of God; Concern for the Poor and Social Justice, Respect for all Persons; Quality Education; and Inclusive Community is key to the vibrant, dynamic, and diverse campus we are blessed with. During my first year as your President, the CBU community has continued to show compassion for others and to demonstrate on a daily basis how deeply committed we are to our mission that embraces the mindset of “enter to learn, leave to serve.” That mission is at CBU’s core — but it has always been a work in progress. When we enter to learn, that means that we create a space for listening. We learn by listening, not only to our teachers but also to one another. As a university, as a place where everyone enters to learn, our mission is to create an open and reflective space. Learning to listen and listening to learn requires a state of humility.

Our university reflects a spirit for the support of every person in our community — and that community does not end at the borders of our campus; it extends across this city, across this nation, across the world. That spirit empowers us to educate our students for a world with very complex problems, teaching them to move forward with open dialogue, learning from others to find solutions together to create a more just and better world. 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.