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The following email was sent Monday, February 6, 2017 to members of the ARHU community from Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill.

Dear ARHU students, faculty and staff,

I’ve spent the past several weeks listening to members of the ARHU community deeply troubled by the current state of public affairs in our nation. I share concern about the fraying of core American values of equal opportunity, freedom, justice and religious plurality. While I recognize that there are differences of opinion in the college and on the campus, I feel the need to respond to feelings of fear and anxiety that have been incited by recent White House actions.

I strongly endorse President Loh’s pledge of support for individuals in our community adversely affected by restrictions on travel, study and exchange. These hardships affect us all and like me, you may know a fellow Terp (a classmate or colleague, advisee or alum) whose ability to visit an ailing relative, pursue education or job opportunities abroad or host a visiting scholar may be in jeopardy.

As students and scholars of the arts and humanities, we know that our fields have much to offer in these challenging times: Our disciplines have the capacity to increase empathy, and we are equipped to practice cross-cultural understanding and nurture compassion. We can draw on these skills to model the kindness and caring needed now. The arts and humanities also provide context and insights to help address issues of diversity, inclusion and social justice that divide our nation. In our fields, we learn to assess information from multiple sources, analyze and debate their similarities and differences, and come to reasoned conclusions in a process governed by respect and civility. I therefore ask that we recommit ourselves to these practices and to their underlying foundations in intellectual freedom.

As your dean, I intend to address developments that adversely impact teaching and research excellence in the college. I have already expressed opposition to the potential defunding of the national endowments for the arts and humanities. Sustained public investment in these agencies is vital to research and scholarship as well as artistic and cultural life in our communities, our college and across the United States.

Please consider sharing your stories about the importance and impact of our work for our nation and the world. Resources on- and off-campus include:

  1. UMD’s “Express Yourself Contest”
  2. UMD’s Social Justice Day
  3. Humanities Advocacy Day (National Humanities Alliance)
  4. Arts Advocacy Day (Americans for the Arts)

ARHU prides itself on preparing global visionaries and creative problem solvers. This moment in history provides an unparalleled opportunity to apply scholarship and theory to problems of daily life. It is a chance for all of us to increase our learning through study, attention and action. We are challenged therefore to engage in even deeper conversations with one another so that we expand our understanding of the issues and strengthen our ability as a community to be effective advocates for the values of democracy we cherish. It is with deep and abiding pride in all that we can, will and continue to do that I ask you to join me in affirming #IAmARHU.


Bonnie ​

Bonnie Thornton Dill
Professor & Dean
College of Arts and Humanities