Observing Juneteenth

A message from the President

Dear Bulldog family,

Today, we join the nation in remembering the anniversary of Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom for the last of four million African-Americans to be emancipated during the Civil War era. It wasn’t until 2007 that North Carolina recognized this holiday. This fact, as well as so much of the news of recent weeks, shows that progress toward a more just society has been too slow: too slow across the nation, too slow in our state, and too slow at Wingate. That’s why I want to let you know how the University is working on matters related to equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Jeff Frederick
Craig Addison

I have asked Craig Addison, our CFO / COO and a former chief diversity officer in the financial industry, and our incoming Provost Jeff Frederick, a historian of the American South who has written powerfully about the civil rights era, to bring students, employees and other members of the Wingate community into a dialogue to improve our campus culture, address problems and create a climate that better embraces diversity. They will help us coordinate the good work already underway for greater collaboration, cohesion and impact.

I wish I could magically and quickly change hearts, repair broken spirits and quell anxiety, including that felt by our DACA students as they awaited yesterday’s pivotal Supreme Court ruling. But there is no magic wand, no instant fix. The path forward will be messy and, at times, uncomfortable as Craig and Jeff form work groups to gather feedback and make sure that all voices are heard. Already we are hearing about past incidents of racial profiling, of inappropriate statements made on campus and of other concerns that we must address as we grapple with matters of identity and inclusiveness. Craig and Jeff will help us track our progress.

Please know that my passion for social justice is not new. My first job at Wingate in 1989 was as a “community organizer” of sorts, and the Micah 6:8 command “to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” is my goal personally and as a university president. I am committed to do whatever it takes to help Wingate reach its potential as a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for all.

On this Juneteenth, I am asking Wingate employees to stop their work at noon and spend time during the remainder of their day talking with others about equity and justice. 

As we begin this process, if you have specific concerns, please reach out to Dori Armstead and the Human Resources team by emailing hr@wingate.edu or to Student Engagement staff by emailing Nancy Randall at nrandall@wingate.edu. Craig and Jeff will also be available. 

I am grateful to be part of this community with you, and I am hopeful that together we can better live out our Statement of Inclusion, found below and on page 5 of the Student Handbook.

Sincerely,

Rhett Brown 

Wingate University cultivates an inclusive and welcoming environment. The University affirms principles of fairness and social justice. We believe a diverse academy supports greater learning outcomes, enhances the campus ethos, prepares students for a multicultural workforce and society, and contributes to self-reflection and growth.

June 19, 2020

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