January 18, 2019
Dear SMU community,
On March 17, 1966, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of SMU students, faculty and staff at McFarlin Auditorium. During an hour-long talk that mesmerized the audience, he proclaimed:
“Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the time and persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God.”
More than 50 years later, Dr. King’s words continue to inspire us. As we begin each new year together, we celebrate SMU Dream Week to honor Dr. King’s lifetime of dedicated, persistent work and the values he championed – including individual dignity and worth, inclusion, civic participation, open dialogue and civil debate. These concepts are at the very core of SMU’s academic mission and a welcoming community, in which all are valued and able to pursue their goals and do their best work.
I invite you to join me and our community in honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy during this special week of inspiring events. On Monday, January 21, at 10 a.m., we will participate with SMU red-and-blue spirit in Dallas’ annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. All are welcome to attend this celebration near Fair Park, which is always moving and invigorating. On Wednesday, the annual Unity Walk will start at 6 p.m. rather than midday so that more SMU and Dallas community members will be able to join us on the Boulevard. We will begin the evening with reflections on Dr. King’s legacy at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Also as part of Dream Week, students and others will volunteer at Dallas organizations, building relationships with SMU neighbors.
These important conversations about respect and inclusion will continue on campus throughout the year, and I hope that you will participate in these opportunities, as well. As you’re aware, last year we launched the Cultural Intelligence Initiative, a new approach to diversity training led by Senior Advisor to the Provost and Associate Professor Maria Dixon Hall. CIQ@SMU aims to equip every member of our campus community with the skills and knowledge to manage and communicate effectively in complex cultural contexts. Watch for more information this spring about CIQ@SMU workshops and the first training cohort, who will help expand the program’s reach across campus.
I am deeply grateful to the many students, faculty and staff members who are shaping these programs and discussions, including the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement, which sponsors Dream Week, and Dr. Dixon Hall for her leadership of CIQ@SMU. This is significant work and, as Dr. King so wisely said, it will require time, persistence and dedicated individuals.
I wish each of you a fulfilling new year and progress toward your goals. Thank you for being part of the SMU community.
R. Gerald Turner