We Stopped Listening to Each Other
November 10, 2015
We didn't respond or react. We got frustrated with each other, and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action and unusual steps to effect change.
I am resigning as president of the University of Missouri system today.
My motivation in making this decision comes from love. I love MU, Columbia, where I grew up, and the state of Missouri. I have thought greatly about this decision, and it's the right thing to do. The response to this announcement I'm sure will bring joy to some and anger to others, and that's why we're here today. So let me speak to why this is so important at this time.
To our students: from Concerned Student 1950 to our grad students, football players and other students, the frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don't doubt it for a second.
To the faculty and staff who have expressed their anger, their frustration, this, too, is real.
To my friends and my supporters that have been so gracious and have sent so many emails in the past and calls with support, I understand that you might be frustrated, as well.
So the question really is, is why did we get to this very difficult situation. It is my belief we stopped listening to each other. We didn't respond or react. We got frustrated with each other, and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action and unusual steps to effect change.
This is not, I repeat not, the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation. We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening, and quit intimidating each other.
Unfortunately this has not happened. And I just want to stand before you today, and I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred.
I ask everybody—from students to faculty to staff to my friends, everybody—use my resignation to heal and to start talking again. To make the changes necessary, and let's focus on changing what we can change today and in the future, and not what we can’t change, which is what happened in the past.
I truly love everybody here and the very institution, and my decision to resign comes out of love, not hate. I’d like to read some Scripture that’s given me strength. I hope it provides you with some strength as well, as we think about this next. I have to also to give credit to my daughter, who reminded me of the Scripture.
Psalm 46 verse 1: "The Lord is my refuge and my strength, my very present help in trouble."
We need to use my resignation—please, please—use this resignation to heal, not to hate as we move forward today for a brighter tomorrow. God bless all of you, and thank you for this wonderful opportunity to serve the University of Missouri system. Thank you.