Message from President Mary C. Finger - June 5, 2020

As our community and our nation continues to deal with the incredible health and economic repercussions of a devastating pandemic, we are confronting appalling incidents that challenge the dignity of every human being. Last week, Minneapolis, Minnesota resident George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer while in police custody. Mr. Floyd’s death comes in the wake of other recent tragic deaths of African-American citizens that have been well documented in the news - Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.

Protests have erupted in Minneapolis and in cities across the country, including Greensburg and Pittsburgh. We grieve as a community for the lives lost and recognize the pain that these deaths have on each of us, particularly the African-American faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends who are valued members of our Seton Hill community. We stand with those most impacted – our students and colleagues of color - united in our condemnation of violence and oppression.

Our Catholic Setonian roots demand a deep commitment to the dignity of all people – and to the belief that every human life is precious and a gift from God. Catholic Social Teaching forcefully insists that we are all one human family and demands respect and equality for all.

All of us at Seton Hill are called upon to be peacemakers, to build bridges, to encourage dialogue and to pray for a world that is hurting.

On Wednesday, the Seton Hill community came together virtually in an Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace, Unity, and Understanding. Nearly 200 of us joined in prayer, song and reflection as we asked for God's light to guide us through these dark times.

Program participants included Seton Hill Board Chair Karen Farmer White, along with faculty, staff and students. All spoke with great passion about their personal experiences with racism or the ways they have worked to speak out against the insidious ways bigotry and hatred have continued to permeate throughout our society.

I am grateful for all who attended the program, including Provincial Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill Sr. Catherine Meinert and other members of the Sisters of Charity, along with Trustees, faculty, staff and students.

Seton Hill students especially provide me with great hope for our nation’s future as we work together to confront four centuries of oppression and move toward true equality for all our citizens.

We continue to come together, as Pope Francis has invited us, to “make God’s merciful love ever more evident in our world through dialogue, mutual acceptance in fraternal cooperation.” Seton Hill has a strong legacy of engaging in dialogue and coalition building. We value diversity and the benefit brought by multiple cultures and perspectives living and learning together in our search for truth.

I want to assure you that Seton Hill remains committed to acknowledging the concerns of members of our community who feel anxious and vulnerable at this time. We continue to make sure our curriculum, our policies and our community reflect diversity in all of its forms. Above all else, we work to ensure Seton Hill remains a welcoming - indeed a sacred - space.


Mary C. Finger