Winter Video Message from President Maureen O'Connor

Friday, February 21, 2020
Please take a moment to view this Winter Video Message 2020 from Palo Alto University President Maureen O'Connor. A text version of the message, which addresses PAU's commitment to equity and inclusion, is included below.  
Greetings to our PAU community in our Winter Quarter 2020.
When we established our PAU Vision Statement several years ago, we infused a deep commitment to inclusion and equity. Indeed, Objective #3 of that Statement asks us to:
"Maintain and enhance PAU’s commitment to honoring culture and promoting diversity at the core of all academic and institutional initiatives, infused and incorporated into all Objectives of this Strategic Vision."
We take that commitment seriously. I want you all to know that I am so glad that each one of you is here. Each member of our community is integral and essential; each one of you belongs here and is valuable to our institution. I want to clearly express our institutional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have made great strides in our institution towards social justice and cultural consciousness; we believe strongly in the didactic training, research and scholarship, clinical and professional work, and programming that serve to deepen our cultural awareness, knowledge, and responsiveness.
We also remain a work in progress. True diversity is messy; it creates discomfort, pain, and strong emotions- and it is critical. Meaningful engagement with diversity and social justice offers us opportunities to become our best selves, both individually and in community. We need to be exposed to a multitude of voices and perspectives, as our understanding of our shared humanity is enriched by our awareness of sociocultural differences and disparities. We need to be able to dialogue about our experiential knowledge and the realities of others. We need to be able to examine our multicultural selves and our positioning in society. We need to be able to understand the pervasive impact power, privilege, and oppression has on our own community, our relationships with one another, our clinical work and research, and in the relationships and mental health of our clients and research subjects. We must deepen our stamina to accept difficult feedback and to sit with discomfort. We must look inward to critically examine our own institutional structures.
I am so proud of the work that is going on at PAU. Together, the Faculty Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Teceta Tormala, and the new university-wide Inclusion and Equity Committee - consisting of students, staff, and faculty and co-chaired by Drs. Tormala and Nazzal - are actively engaged with these issues. They are developing a multi-year strategic plan focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, which will include professional development and training for faculty and staff, the creation of a restorative process for addressing identity-based experiences, and the alignment of our curricula and classrooms with our inclusive goals.
We are trying to be better tomorrow than we are today. The work towards social justice and cultural consciousness is often the continual striving to do better rather than a simple arrival - and we have some distance to travel together. This is the shared work of each one of us- I call on each of us to lean in to this process to work together to build a campus that is inclusive and equitable.
I am grateful to all of you who are working toward helping PAU live its commitments every day.
I wish you all an active and productive winter quarter, and look forward to seeing you at one or more of our many events over the next few weeks, especially the first-ever Silicon Valley Alumni Meet-Up, on February 27, at Nola in Palo Alto. See you soon.
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