Due to the seriousness of the issues we are facing as a society, I wanted to assure members of the community that Pitt Community College remains committed to providing them a safe environment in which to receive quality educational services.
Since the ball dropped in Times Square, we’ve battled a series of tribulations that have resulted in periods of isolation and anxiety, disagreement and mistrust, and fear and frustration. Though there will certainly be difficult days ahead, I have little doubt we all desire a brighter future—and hope to witness healing as soon as possible.
As I have already done with PCC students, employees, trustees and foundation board members, I would like to express to the community my thoughts on the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd last month in Minneapolis and the resulting civil unrest the country has been experiencing.
In our community, we have witnessed both peaceful protesting for positive and meaningful change in this great nation and individuals who have chosen a destructive path of vandalism and looting. The differences between the demonstrations are stark, to say the least, but both have had a role in rekindling very complex and difficult questions about activism, justice and racism that will take all of us working in harmony to resolve.
In times like these, it is imperative that we extend to our colleagues, students, friends and neighbors an extra measure of compassion and understanding as we endeavor to move beyond our current set of circumstances. Each one of us must summon the fortitude to engage in courageous conversations that will give us the strength needed to begin the healing process for everyone hurting. It may be uncomfortable, but we absolutely must take the time to respectfully discuss and truly listen to one another’s thoughts and concerns.
PCC’s commitment to ensuring a welcoming environment for everyone is engrained in the college’s culture—and has been since its founding nearly 60 years ago. Now, more than ever, we can clearly see the importance of making the pursuit of equity our guide with respect to future actions, policies and practices. The significant investment we have made in our partnership with the Achieving the Dream National Network is a testament to our dedication to achieving equity and our understanding of its monumental impact on the success of our students and community.
As the events following Mr. Floyd’s death quickly developed, I met with my administrative leadership team to identify steps and resources that will ensure all Pitt Community College students, faculty and staff feel safe, valued, respected and supported. We have a variety of resources available for this purpose, including our Employee Assistance Program, Counseling Services, Student Support/Title IX Department, and PCC police force.
Last fall, PCC began a series of discussions on equity and how the college could best serve students. In light of recent events, that work is more urgent than ever before. In the coming academic year, we will redouble our efforts to secure additional resources for students, faculty and staff. PCC has long been a leader of innovation among the state’s community colleges, and we will continue to collaborate with our elected officials and civic leaders to make certain this continues.
As I told my PCC family, we are Bulldogs. As such, we will remain tenacious in our dedication to maintaining an environment that draws strength from and celebrates diversity. As we work through the summer term and into the fall semester, we will remain steadfast in upholding our values – community, success, equity and integrity – in all that we do. This, my friends, is ‘The Bulldog Way.’
As PCC president, I pledge to remain dedicated to preserving and continually enhancing a safe and equitable learning environment for all students to achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity. It is my sincere hope that you will join me.
I wish you all the best in the weeks and months to come as we seek to strengthen our community. In the words of President John F. Kennedy, let us pledge to “convert our good words into good deeds” and “explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”
Lawrence L. Rouse, Ed.D.