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Presidents' Message to President-Elect

More than 100 campus leaders urge Trump to take more forceful stand against "harassment, hate and acts of violence." UPDATE: More presidents sign on.

November 18, 2016
 
President-elect Trump

One hundred and ten college and university presidents have issued a joint letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to forcefully “condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office.”

This action is needed, the presidents write, because of the incidents taking place nationwide, including many on college campuses. “In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.”

The full text of the letter and the signatories may be found at the end of this article. (UPDATE: An additional 19 presidents who signed since the letter was first circulated may be found below the original list, and a second group was added on Monday. As more have signed the college has created a website with all the signatures.) News coverage of some of the incidents on college campuses may be found here and here and here. (More than 450 professors at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump's alma mater, have issued an open letter calling on the president-elect to "immediately and publicly denounce" the way three people in Oklahoma signed up black freshmen at Penn to receive text messages with images of violence against black people and racial slurs from someone called "Daddy Trump" or "Heil Trump.")

Mariko Silver, president of Bennington College, led the effort to organize the letter. In an interview, she said the letter came out of discussions she had with fellow presidents, concerned that “our students who have overcome extraordinary adversity” were “feeling anxiety and uncertainty” because of the incidents on campuses.

Silver said students need to hear “from the future leadership of the country” that there is a commitment that they should feel safe from harassment.

Bennington has not experienced the kind of incidents that prompted the letter, Silver said, but she and others are concerned about trends well beyond their campuses.

Trump’s transition office did not respond to a request from Inside Higher Ed to comment on the letter.

In an interview on 60 Minutes shortly after his election, Trump was asked about the incidents of harassment of Muslims, Latinos and others, to which he replied, “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it -- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.’”

Silver said that comment was positive, but that Trump still needs to truly disavow what has been occurring. She said the message needs to come directly from him.

“One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable,” the letter says. “As president-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.”

The vast majority of those who signed the letter lead private institutions, not public ones. Liberal arts college presidents make up most of the signers. Seven presidents lead historically black colleges. One president leads a Canadian university.

Silver said she believed many leaders of public colleges and universities were equally concerned but that they may need to consult with more constituencies before putting their names to such a letter. She stressed that the letter was not an attempt to align the presidents with any political view, and noted that all of the presidents likely have students, alumni and employees who backed different candidates for the presidency.

The text of the letter follows, and the list of signatories follows that.

Letter From Presidents to President-Elect Trump

Dear President-elect Trump,

As do you, we “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.” In order to maintain the trust required for such productive engagement, it is essential that we immediately reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. As college and university presidents, we commit ourselves to promoting these values on our campuses and in our communities, and we stand alongside the business, nonprofit, religious and civic leaders who are doing the same in organizations large and small.

In light of your pledge to be “President for all Americans,” we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office. In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.

One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable. As president-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.

Presidents and Chancellors Who Signed Letter (alphabetical by institution) (UPDATE: Those who signed Friday are listed below.)

  • Raymond E. Crossman, Adler University
  • Mauri Ditzler, Albion College
  • Mark Zupan, Alfred University
  • Jeff Abernathy, Alma College
  • Biddy Martin, Amherst College
  • William R. Groves, Antioch University
  • John M. Sullivan, Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Paul C. Pribbenow, Augsburg College
  • Steven Bahls, Augustana College
  • Marjorie Hass, Austin College
  • Leon Botstein, Bard College
  • Mac Powell, Bastyr University
  • Scott Bierman, Beloit College
  • Mariko Silver, Bennington College
  • David C. Joyce, Brevard College
  • Kimberly Wright Cassidy, Bryn Mawr College
  • Nancy Blattner, Caldwell University
  • Donald J. Laackman, Champlain College
  • Frank G. Pogue, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (interim president)
  • David McInally, Coe College
  • Brian W. Casey, Colgate University
  • Helen J. Streubert, College of Saint Elizabeth
  • Reverend Philip L. Boroughs, College of the Holy Cross
  • Jonathan Brand, Cornell College
  • Jann Weitzel, Cottey College
  • Carol Quillen, Davidson College
  • Mark McCoy, DePauw University
  • Walter M. Kimbrough, Dillard University
  • MaryAnn Baenninger, Drew University
  • Donald Eastman, Eckerd College
  • Carl J. Strikwerda, Elizabethtown College
  • Jake B. Schrum, Emory & Henry College
  • James A. Anderson, Fayetteville State University
  • J. Michael Pressimone, Fontbonne University
  • Daniel Porterfield, Franklin & Marshall College
  • Elizabeth Davis, Furman University
  • Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College
  • Robert Kenny, Goddard College
  • Mark Scheinberg, Goodwin College
  • Jose Antonio Bowen, Goucher College
  • Raynard S. Kington, Grinnell College
  • Jane K. Fernandes, Guilford College
  • Rebecca M. Bergman, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • John J. "Ski" Sygielski, HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College
  • Margaret L. Drugovich, Hartwick College
  • Kimberly Benston, Haverford College
  • Lori Varlotta, Hiram College
  • Mark D. Gearan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Andrea Chapdelaine, Hood College
  • Shirley A. Mullen, Houghton College
  • Lisa A. Rossbacher, Humboldt State University
  • Alison Byerly, Lafayette College
  • Dan McAlexander, LaGrange College
  • Michael B. Alexander, Lasell College
  • Mark Burstein, Lawrence University
  • Barry Glassner, Lewis & Clark College
  • Richard Green, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania
  • Reverend Brian F. Linnane, Loyola University Maryland
  • Kenneth R. Garren, Lynchburg College
  • Brian Rosenberg, Macalester College
  • Stuart Kestenbaum, Maine College of Art
  • James Gandre, Manhattan School of Music
  • Kevin F. F. Quigley, Marlboro College
  • Kerry Walk, Marymount Manhattan College
  • Laurie Patton, Middlebury College
  • Bryon Grigsby, Moravian College
  • John Silvanus Wilson Jr., Morehouse College
  • David Wilson, Morgan State University
  • Stanley J. Pritchett Sr., Morris Brown College
  • Sonya Stephens, Mount Holyoke College (acting president)
  • Timothy E. Trainor, Mount St. Mary's University
  • John I. Williams Jr., Muhlenberg College
  • Kent Devereaux, New Hampshire Institute of Art
  • Richard Helldobler, Northeastern Illinois University (interim president)
  • Lawrence Schall, Oglethorpe University
  • David W. Oxtoby, Pomona College
  • Debbie Sydow, Richard Bland College
  • Allan Cahoon, Royal Roads University
  • Rachel Schreiber, San Francisco Art Institute (interim president)
  • Karen R. Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Tracy Fitzsimmons, Shenandoah University
  • Susan E. Henking, Shimer College
  • Peg Albert, Siena Heights University
  • Joe Bertolino, Southern Connecticut State University
  • David Rees Evans, Southern Vermont College
  • Edward B. Burger, Southwestern University
  • John A. Pieper, St. Louis College of Pharmacy
  • Kevin J. Manning, Stevenson University
  • Valerie Smith, Swarthmore College
  • Susan C. Scrimshaw, the Sage Colleges
  • John M. McCardell Jr., the University of the South
  • Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Trinity College (Connecticut)
  • Stephen C. Ainlay, Union College (New York)
  • Thomas W. Keefe, University of Dallas
  • Quint Thurman, University of the Southwest
  • Jonathan Chenette, Vassar College (interim president)
  • Thomas Christopher Greene, Vermont College of Fine Arts
  • Scott D. Miller, Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Weymouth Spence, Washington Adventist University
  • Joseph Kline, Watkins College
  • Jonathan Gibralter, Wells College
  • Michael S. Roth, Wesleyan University
  • Dennis Hanno, Wheaton College (Massachusetts)
  • David J. Chard, Wheelock College
  • Sharon Herzberger, Whittier College
  • Stephen E. Thorsett, Willamette University
  • Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, William Jewell College
  • Adam Falk, Williams College
  • Barbara K. Mistick, Wilson College

Additional Presidents Who Signed Letter Friday:

  • Elizabeth Kiss, Agnes Scott College
  • Lex O. McMillan III, Albright College
  • Debora L. Spar, Barnard College
  • Clayton Spencer, Bates College
  • Clayton S. Rose, Bowdoin College
  • John Bravman, Bucknell University
  • Elaine J. Copeland, Clinton College
  • Harry Lee Williams, Delaware State University
  • Adam Weinberg, Denison University
  • David Dawson, Earlham College
  • Sean Decatur, Kenyon College
  • Teresa Amott, Knox College
  • Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College
  • John R. Kroger, Reed College
  • Donald J. Farish, Roger Williams University
  • Janice A. Cervelli, Saint Mary's College (Indiana)
  • Lara Tiedens, Scripps College
  • Matthew Derr, Sterling College
  • Jay Lemons, Susquehanna University

Presidents and Chancellors Added on Monday:

  • Neil Kerwin, American University
  • Lyle D. Roelofs, Berea College
  • Michelle J. Anderson, Brooklyn College
  • Alice Hunt, Chicago Theological Seminary
  • David Angel, Clark University
  • Katherine Bergeron, Connecticut College
  • Neil Weissman, Dickinson College (interim)
  • Katrina S. Rogers, Fielding Graduate University
  • Roslyn Clark Artis, Florida Memorial University
  • Fayneese Miller, Hamline University
  • Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra University
  • John C. Knapp, Hope College
  • Thomas R. Rochon, Ithaca College
  • Stephen D. Schutt, Lake Forest College
  • Michael A. Grandillo, Madonna University
  • David Yellen, Marist College
  • Jonathan Veitch, Occidental College
  • William E. Troutt, Rhodes College
  • Philip A. Glotzbach, Skidmore College
  • Kathleen McCartney, Smith College
  • Sarah Bolton, the College of Wooster
  • Danny Anderson, Trinity University
  • Patricia McGuire, Trinity Washington University
  • Anthony Monaco, Tufts University
  • Freeman A. Hrabowski III, UMBC
  • David Yager, University of the Arts
  • Steven L. Solnick, Warren Wilson College
  • Kenneth P. Ruscio, Washington and Lee University
  • Michelle D. Jones, Wayfinding Academy
  • Paula A. Johnson, Wellesley College
  • Kathleen M. Murray, Whitman College
  • Nayef Samhat, Wofford College

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