Searching for a Better Future

June 5, 2020

Dear Kent State University Community,

We all have spent much of the last few days watching as the nation mourns the death of George Floyd. We join the nation in mourning. Our collective sorrow remembers Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, two African Americans also killed this year. Our grief and pain also are tied to the reality that African Americans along with other marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closer to home, two members of our beloved Golden Flashes community, state Sen. and Kent State Associate Professor of Political Science Vernon Sykes and state Rep. and Kent State alumna Emilia Strong Sykes, received threats related to their duties as elected state officials. Additionally, on May 3, an individual known to authorities for his anti-Semitic views was heard asking a store clerk in Stow the location of Kent State and made comments that could be perceived as threatening to the Jewish community. Fortunately, the individual did not make it to Kent and was arrested on another charge. 

In recent statements by both Black United Students and the Undergraduate Student Government, these issues are on the minds of many of our student leaders who are actively working toward a vision of equity and justice that will shape a better future.

It is the hope and aspirations of our students, combined with the history and lessons of May 4, 1970, that remind us of the need to study the root causes of current troubles as we search for a better future. We are called to learn more about the structures, histories, assumptions, prejudices and cultures that lead to disparate outcomes in healthcare, in the judicial system and in myriad aspects of our lives. We are thankful that our Kent State historians, sociologists, public health professors, Peace and Conflict Studies and Pan-African Studies professors, and many, many others are participating in these national conversations. Understanding and improving the world we inhabit are central to what we do at Kent State, as is our commitment to kindness and respect in all that we do.

As we work to reopen our university safely, let us remember that many of our community members live daily with injustices that inflict pain, trauma and a host of other emotions. As Golden Flashes, we ask that you recommit yourselves to the promotion of equity and justice and continue to lift up our institutional values of respect, kindness and purpose. We appreciate each of you and look forward to continuing the work of making our community equitable and inclusive for all.


Todd Diacon, Ph.D.

Melody Tankersley, Ph.D.
Interim Senior Vice President and Provost

Amoaba Gooden, Ph.D.
Interim Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Lamar R. Hylton, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs