A Message from President Bob Caslen

January 18, 2021

Community. I often find myself using the word community as I talk about our university. Sometimes it refers to the physical campus. More often, though, I'm referring to you –- the people that make up our university. Students, faculty, staff, friends, loved ones. We come from different walks and are pursuing individual goals – dreams – together at our university.

As we celebrate the life and the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to share with you my personal reflection on his vision to "create a beloved community." One that "will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives." To achieve change in our lives and in our souls, Dr. King outlined the need for both reconciliation – the restoration of friendships; and redemption – the need for forgiveness to ensure restoration and health of the relationship.

These past few months have shown us as a campus and as a community that much of Dr. King's vision for justice and equality remains unrealized in America. This is evidenced by the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. Their deaths galvanized many across the country, including those in our UofSC community, to act, and stand as a bulwark against racism and systemic injustice. Dr. King eloquently stated that "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." With Dr. King in mind, I am thankful for our campus leaders like faculty members Nicole Cooke and Toby Jenkins, and alumni athlete Jay Urich. Last week, these Gamecocks received the 2021 Social Justice Award, created to recognize individuals who have exemplified the philosophies of Dr. King through random or ongoing acts of community service, social justice or racial reconciliation.

As you take time this weekend to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, I challenge you to consider your role in building a "beloved community" at our university. I challenge all of us to strive for a University of South Carolina that fully embraces and realizes its values of forgiveness and reconciliation, as well as inclusion and equity. Values which Dr. King fought and died for. In his brief, but meaningful life, he showed America and our university the path forward. While fraught with difficulty, I encourage you, even in the context of our current national upheaval, and in the same spirit as Dr. King, to join me and your fellow Gamecocks on the path to creating a "beloved community" at South Carolina.

Bob Caslen