University of Saint Francis President Sister M. Elise Kriss addresses social concerns with USF community

June 2, 2020

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – University of Saint Francis President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, sent a letter to the USF community today sharing her thoughts on social concerns in our country:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Our prayers are with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all who mourn the loss of their loved ones due to unwarranted violence. To our students, faculty, and staff of color, you are in our prayers in a special way. We know you are heartbroken, and we share your sadness and outrage.

The University of Saint Francis is a peaceful and inclusive campus with a deep commitment to inclusion and culturally responsive practices intrinsic to our Catholic mission and Franciscan values. We cherish and respect the diversity that is all around us and strive to live up to the ideals that are so beautifully spelled out in the Gospels. Racism and violence run counter to our mission, violate our Franciscan tradition, and go against everything we stand for. I know that many of you are disturbed and offended by the deaths suffered by people of color at the hands of some. Many of you, like me, have never experienced the sting of racism. But that should not invalidate the feelings of those who have; and while it may be convenient to distance ourselves from the problem, we must do more. Now is the time to act.

While we would all like to see action by public officials to make systemic changes in our society, the fact is that the actions we truly desire are the personal responsibility of each one of us, one to the other. Jesus said: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) We can put our love into action by reaching out to our brothers and sisters who are fearful by expressing our concern, asking them to share their fears, and communicating our solidarity with loving presence, even virtually. In these, and other ways, we can reverence each person’s unique dignity, build up our USF community and help to strengthen relational bonds in our society.

Langston Hughes wrote in his poem, Harlem, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?” As has been the case with much of 2020, these last few weeks have been difficult, but I am confident that brighter days are ahead. In time, healing must begin, but it cannot take place in isolation. I recognize that, without action, these words could be construed as empty. We will continue our efforts to remain a campus that fosters peace and justice and is safe and welcoming to all Cougars.

In the meantime, please know we pray for you, that we are here for you, and that our campus resources are available for you.

Peace, Sister Elise

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the School of Health Sciences, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership and School of Creative Arts. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the university’s business and music technology programs while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis campus experience includes 16 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships and is recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution. Approximately 2,200 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.