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Message from the Dean: June 2020 Alumni Newsletter

Dear SOE Billiken Alums, 

I hope that this note finds you healthy and safe during this very difficult time in our region, the nation, and the world. Obviously, given my privileged position, I cannot understand the pain felt by those of you who are African American. Today, we know that African Americans are more likely to be infected by COVID-19 and to die as a result, are suffering disproportionate financial pain in our economic decline, and now must again come face to face with disgraceful police brutality.

I don’t know the right words to say, except that saying nothing is not an option. I want you to know I am sorry, I care, and I want to do everything I can to ensure that our School of Education provides a space where you feel safe and valued. I want to listen to you; I want you to be heard. I want to know what we can do for you. We are all part of #OneSLU.

We will redouble our efforts in pursuit of our Jesuit mission, where we work with and for our sisters and brothers to seek justice and improve lives. We, at Saint Louis University, should heed the call to pursue racial justice. There are no easy answers, but our faith can be an important lens through which to analyze these realities. Reverend Bryan Massingale, of Fordham University, urges us here to face up to the real history of racial injustice in our country. Reverend Massingale completes his essay realistically, but hopefully, arguing that good can ultimately prevail, but often at a great price. We must be willing to work together – to do the real and sustained work – to move collectively toward justice and equality.

This work requires the involvement of our entire community – students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Please reach out to me to get involved!

In this edition of the newsletter, we highlight the 2020 School of Education Alumni Merit Award winner, Alice F. Roach, Ed.D.  Dr. Roach, a 2006 graduate of our School of Education, has been an educator and leader for more than forty years! Today, she continues to work in the St. Louis Public School District, and has received national and local recognition for her ongoing work in service to students and schools throughout her illustrious career.

We also highlight important work that our faculty and students are doing at the international level.  First of all, Amrita Chaturvedi, Ph.D. and two SLU alumni are among those leading The Kashi School Project. This project is an initiative of the Kashi Initiative for Global Citizenship and Education, which was created in Summer 2019 to deliver high-quality educational services to underprivileged children living on the outskirts of Varanasi, India. Dr. Chaturvedi and her colleagues built this program to bring children together in safe, protected spaces where they can build sustainable futures. The project also offers the opportunity for cross-cultural exchange, wherein students can go to India and experience and learn from the culture.

Another important international project is being explored by three School of Education faculty members in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. This group, Jaime Welborn, Ph.D., Maureen Wikete Lee, Ph.D. and Merlene Gilb, Ed.D. , visited with leaders of the school of IDADEE, a children’s home with primary and secondary schools that provide an education to local children.  The SLU team noted many similarities between the priorities of IDADEE school and the schools in and around our SLU community; they are now exploring opportunities for SLU to make a positive contribution.

As Billiken alumni, the world needs you more than ever to strive to shape the world “as it ought to be,” being leaders in building a society which fights racism, celebrates our common humanity, and encourages us all to be women and men working with and for others. 

Please let us know if there are ways we can support you; we are here for you.

Best wishes,
Gary W. Ritter, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education