Jan. 17, 2022 

Dear Colleagues,

As we move into our final preparations for the start of our Spring 2022 semester, I wanted to share a few thoughts and reflections with you. I always experience much excitement and anticipation the week before the start of a new semester, and this moment in time is no different – even as we navigate the myriad of challenges associated with Omicron. I know that every member of our campus community is devoting the time and preparation necessary to provide the richest and most engaging experience for our students and in the safest possible way for all of us. I appreciate our individual and collective perseverance and adaptability in navigating such challenging and fluid conditions that impact us on so many levels.

In addition, I can’t help but focus on our educational mission at CSUCI and how we promote insight, awareness, and growth in better understanding and addressing the most complex and pressing needs of our time. Most importantly, it is the applied value of our education that carries so much potential – by incorporating our understanding of theory, research, and best practices into action.

With this context in mind, I am asking all of us to reflect on the importance of nurturing our individual and collective commitments to being of good service, with today’s honoring of the brave and transformational work and life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and with Tuesday being the sixth annual National Day of Racial Healing.

In this spirit, I offer you the opportunity to take an hour from a workday this week to do something good for your community – whether that’s at CSUCI or in the place where you live. Maybe you’ll spend that hour exploring the Heal Our Communities website, downloading one of their action kits for racial healing and developing a plan for using it. Or maybe there’s a project in your neighborhood, or a contribution you can deliver to a food bank, or a colleague at CSUCI who could use a friendly ear or your helping hands. I understand that one hour of service may not sound like much. However, I believe that our cumulative efforts together – no matter how seemingly small – can have a significant impact on each other’s’ lives and our communities. This impact can also create the momentum we need as we embark on the start of our semester – where so many of our large-scale goals are reliant on our service to each other and our community.

If you choose to dedicate one of your workday hours this week to service, please be sure to communicate directly with your supervisor and work together to ensure that there is no disruption to your unit’s work.

I thought the below quote from Dr. King was a beautiful illustration of the essence of service. Two months before he was murdered, Dr. King shared that he thought about his death, and about what he would want people to say about him at his funeral. In his sermon, Drum Major for Peace, he said:

Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say.

Thank you for your continued dedication and service to each other, our campus, and our broader community.

Richard Yao, Ph.D.
Interim President

Back to Top ↑