Southwestern University interim President Dale Knobel addressed the university community on the civil unrest occurring throughout the country on the death of George Floyd and other people of color in a letter to the community June 2.

“[Southwestern University has] been consumed, as so many other colleges have, with the details of resuming education with safety on our campus this fall,” Knobel wrote. “And then our world erupts with a pain that reminds us why it is so important to be living and learning together.”

Knobel quoted a prayer for youth by brothers John and Charles Wesley, who founded the Methodist movement. The prayer stated that knowledge, wrought by education, informs an individual’s moral code; a person’s moral code informs their application of knowledge, Knobel said.

Knobel said the death of George Floyd has underscored the need to learn about the roots and perseverance of racism in American society and the importance of living out values of mutual respect in a community of people who come from different backgrounds and experiences.

“As an educator, I’m humbled when I think of what we have not accomplished in educating generations of Americans about the inequalities of experience faced by those with whom we share this land who by virtue of race or gender or sexual orientation or conditions of arrival in this country do not share comfortable conditions of daily living that many of us take for granted,” Knobel said. “It makes me more eager than ever to assemble today’s Southwestern community to address this educational task.”

Knobel finished his letter with a reminder that while many are concerned with their physical health in the midst of a pandemic, they also should take care of their minds and souls.

“It is by learning and living together, joining morality with understanding to grow into better people who contribute to the building up of a better society,” Knobel said.