LBJ Dean Angela Evans: 'We have to open our eyes and hearts to stand together.' | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Dear LBJ Community,

We are in the midst of an extraordinary set of circumstances in this country that challenge every notion of what it should be: How we expect to live together, how we expect to be governed, how we expect to be protected from harm — whether it be man-made or born of nature — and how we expect to care for the well-being of our communities, and all of our people. We also must reconcile the sadness, anger and sick feeling over what we see happening to our fellow citizens — on our streets and in our hospitals — with the frustration and helplessness that comes with inaction.

America's failures and flaws are undeniably being laid bare. There is no excuse for the loss of over 100,000 Americans to a virus. There is no excuse for another unarmed black man dying on our streets at the hand of a police officer. There is no excuse for millions of our fellow Americans having to struggle to eat and secure shelter.

We must step up. Righteous indignation is not enough. Only when we get into the game — into the arena — when we stop blame and commit to working on these problems with open minds and hearts can things get better.

The LBJ School community is strong and purpose-filled. It has the potential to make a critical difference in the way we tackle these most fundamental of human rights issues. But what makes us strong also presents challenges. Passion and purpose cannot make us insensitive to inconvenient truths. We each have our own story — we each are the sum total of all of our experiences. And one set of experiences is not more important or worthy than another. No rhetoric or punditry accurately reflects the complexities and seriousness of the current state of public affairs.

To end the insidiousness and danger of inequity, racial disparities and the scourge of poverty, we have to come together peacefully and without prejudice. We have to reject the singularity of special interest factions and the lure of advocacy. We have to reject the presence of violence. We have to reject the systemic inequality that plagues our society and that prevents us from becoming what we are capable of being. Instead, we have to open our eyes and hearts to stand together.

We have to be measured and thoughtful in how we embrace the potential for change that our differences offer. We have to use our knowledge and expertise to create pathways to address the challenges.

And we will. It is in our DNA. This work will take time. We will fail; we will learn from these failures; and we will endure. We at the LBJ School will do everything within our power to see that this institution supports a constructive environment for dialogue and action.

Over the next week, we will be organizing a community dialogue where we can come together to listen to each other—to begin the work ahead.  Meanwhile, we are here for you. We will continue to work together with the new Interim President of the University, Jay Hartzell, to address the critical problems facing our society. As Interim President Hartzell wrote: "We come together, and draw upon the diverse range talents, energy and passions that we have on the Forty Acres, to take on the most important and difficult issues of our time."

Stay strong, stay committed and stay well.

Warmest regards,