Dear Harford Community College Community,

By now, most of you are aware of the tragic events that transpired over the past weekend on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I stand with my colleagues from colleges and universities across the country to denounce the violence, hatred, anti-Semitism, and racism carried out by white supremacist groups.

On behalf of the Harford Community College family, I send our prayers to those who were affected by the horrific violence and our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.

Last evening, I attended a candlelight vigil in Bel Air that was quickly pulled together by the community to demonstrate our solidarity and support of equality and inclusion. It was heartwarming to be there with so many members of our community at large and with members of Harford Community College.

Several weeks ago, members of the campus community crafted a new diversity and inclusion statement. I am sharing it with you now, as we gear up to welcome students and faculty back to campus:

As the anchor institution for higher education in Harford County, Harford Community College embraces equity and inclusion as guiding principles for best serving our students and all Harford County residents. Collectively, we benefit from the collaborative learning environment that is fostered when everyone’s unique voices and life experiences are welcomed. Our policies, practices, and pedagogies are designed to create a pluralistic environment that is free from intolerance and honors our College’s values. Through education and awareness, we empower members of our community to contribute to the advancement of social justice in our global society.

As a community college, it is our responsibility to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for everyone. We must educate our students to embrace differences, respect intellectual and academic freedom, promote critical discourse, and encourage socio-cultural and global awareness. We must also live our values each day – Integrity, Excellence, Diversity, Service, Sustainability, Lifelong Learning, Innovation, Communication, and Collaboration.

How do we live our values?

By modeling the behavior we hope to inspire in others. By presuming good intent, and then acting in word and deed with good intent. By challenging our own thinking in an effort to learn and understand. By truly understanding that all of us together are smarter and stronger than any one of us alone. By being courageous, tenacious, deliberate, and gentle.

Let the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. guide us: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Dianna G. Phillips, Ph.D.