Welcome to the fall 2016 semester! Whether you are joining us for your first year, or your last, or anything in between, I hope you’ve had a productive and enjoyable summer. I hope also that you are as excited as I am about the beginning of the school year. As we begin this semester, I challenge you to remain alert, committed, and responsive to events unfolding around us.
We are currently in a time where collective action is needed. This summer, we witnessed the senseless violence in Orlando, and the loss of more lives in needless violence between law enforcement and citizens. So many lives impacted by these tragic events. They serve as reminders of our role as social workers in the world and of our commitment to be change agents in our communities.
For members of an educational community who values social justice, difficult moments can be the foundation upon which we build both conversation and action. First and foremost, be sure that you are registered to vote. Get your friends registered too. Policies are made, for better or for worse, by those we elect. And every voice matters in our political system.
I also urge you to speak up and engage in difficult conversations. Have the courage to question what you hear, see, and read. Most importantly, be sure to examine what you think. And be sure to stay the course, staying in conversation and relationship with others, and modeling the respect for diversity and commitment to social change that is a basic tenant of our profession. Here at Rutgers we have an opportunity to live and learn in a vibrant, diverse community. Let’s not waste this opportunity to engage the big issues of our time.
You will be hearing of a number of special programs this year that will engage students, faculty, and alumni in issues related to promoting social justice. Together, we can be active participants in this pivotal time in our country, by adding our vitality, our intellect, and our hearts to the issues that matter to us most.
I look forward to this semester, particularly in seeing how you grow and develop, and how you decide to take what you learn in the classroom out into the world. It is a great time to be a social worker.
Cathryn C. Potter, M.S.W., Ph.D., Dean and Distinguished Professor