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Dear University community,

This has been a remarkable week.

First, let me pause to recognize that today is June 19, or Juneteenth, a Texas holiday now celebrated in our region, throughout the nation and around the world as a commemoration of the official, and overdue, 1865 proclamation of the end of slavery in that state. The pandemic prevents many community Juneteenth celebrations from happening this year, but it is outstanding to see new conversations, virtual events, online content and TV programming emerge as people awaken to the significance of this day.

Next, I want to take a moment to acknowledge two landmark United States Supreme Court decisions this week. In each, I see affirmation of UW Oshkosh’s values, particularly our work to build a more inclusive institution.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a decision supporting continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which provides protections against deportation for people who were brought to the United States as children in immigrant families. Federal legislation is still necessary to codify the program, as there isn’t the level of certainty from this ruling that the people it directly affects need and deserve. But the court’s decision is still incredibly welcome news for many young people and families whose futures have been so uncertain.

That Court decision followed another earlier this week in which the Justices ruled in favor of protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks from workplace bias per the provisions of Title VII.

Each of these decisions have immediate, positive life-changing impacts on UWO students, faculty and staff members, alumni and neighbors. The rulings allay fears, honor identities and respect people’s dreams to grow and thrive.

We are all living in an uncertain time and a rapidly changing nation. We are experiencing an awakening as people open their eyes, minds and hearts to history, injustice, pain and breakage in our democracy. And there is also action unifying and uplifting us. The highest court in the land has ruled in favor of people yearning for a better now and a brighter future. It feels good to see this validation of principles higher education is built upon.

Celebrate today and these affirmations of UWO’s values as we recognize and recommit to the work left to do on this university’s behalf.


Chancellor Andy Leavitt