June 19, 2020

To Our Community,

As Interim Chancellor of the Community College System of NH, I wish to express my sorrow and outrage about devastating recent events in our country that make all too clear the injustices experienced by black Americans and other people of color. 

On the day many Americans commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, it is tragically clear the wide gulf that exists between the society we would hope for and the one we have, when it comes to the experience of black Americans. As open institutions that are committed to equity, inclusion, and the success of all members of our communities, community colleges are uniquely positioned to help bridge this gulf. I am proud of the work we do every day in service to our students, and in this spirit I am committed to lead our college system to seek out opportunities to build community around our shared common values. 

It is the goal of every one of our colleges to be welcoming and supportive, to be places where students and employees feel safe and valued equally.  While those goals are always important, we need to look at ourselves in this moment, in light of the national conversation about equality and systemic racism, to understand whether our minority students believe that we are actively serving them well and whether our employees of color feel valued, heard and fully included. 

That skin color still, and deeply, defines quality of life and even basic safety in America cannot continue.  We are at a moment in time when we can, and I feel must, change the course of the history of race in America.  Higher education is a place where people can have the kind of conversations that can lead to understanding and change.  As educators, we have the opportunity and obligation to help the members of our college communities have these conversations, thoughtfully and respectfully, to question previous assumptions and behavior, and learn.  We will look at the policies and structures we establish at our colleges to determine how we may better support minority students and employees whose daily life, we acknowledge, contains hardships their non-minority peers do not experience. We will be listening.  We will be asking questions.  We will not shy away from uncomfortable answers.  As we are taking these steps, we will also examine our own ability to behave with empathy and support our peers. 

This is not simply a moment in time. We will make sure the conversation about race and justice continues, and that we will continue to listen to what our students, employees, and other minority members of our communities tell us. 

Susan D. Huard
Interim Chancellor
Community College System of NH

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