Thursday, June 21, 2012

Statement by religious leaders at the University of Virginia

Photo by the Washington Post

To the University Community,

As religious leaders at the University, we offer our voices to the many who are speaking out regarding the events of the past week.  We are deeply saddened by the forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan, a leader we warmly welcomed only two years ago and one who has placed a high value on our role within the University community.  We were encouraged by her inclusion of An Interfaith Vigil of Blessing during her inaugural week in the spring of 2011 and her recognition of religious life as an important aspect of a well-balanced student life for those who wish to take part.  We have been inspired by her vision, her character, and her genuine engagement with the many diverse sectors of the University community, including our own.

Though we understand that there are times that the Board of Visitors must make difficult decisions including the hiring and firing of presidents, we are concerned about the way in which this action was carried out.  Regardless of “philosophical differences” the duties of the Board must be carried out in a manner worthy of the public trust.  As religious leaders we push our students to act ethically and with integrity, and we hope that the Board will do the same moving forward. 

Lastly, we offer our assistance to the University and to any who are struggling with the ongoing fallout from these events with which we are all now coming to terms.  We are available for conversation, listening, and in any other ways we can offer help or perspective from our religious traditions.  We are praying for President Sullivan, the Board of Visitors, the faculty, staff, students, and all those in the University community, near and far. 

In peace,

Agape Christian Fellowship

Fr. Stephen Alcott, O.P., 
Catholic Campus Ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish

Saad Arrabi, Islamic Society of Central Virginia

The Rev. Nick Forti, Canterbury Student Ministry

Evan Hansen, Eunoia

Rabbi Shlomo and Channa Mayer, Chabad

Derek Mondeau, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship

The Rev. Deborah Lewis, The Wesley Foundation at UVa

The Very Rev. James Richardson, St. Paul's Memorial Church

Rabbi Jake Rubin, Brody Jewish Center at UVa

The Rev. Dr. Laura S. Sugg, Westminster Presbyterian Church

The Rev. Sandra J. Wisco, St. Mark Lutheran Church

For questions or further comment, please contact United Ministries President Rabbi Jake Rubin at 434-249-5724.

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