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A Message from Dr. Pestello About the Executive Order on Immigration

Dear students, faculty and staff,

At the end of last week, the President of the United States signed an executive order suspending entry into the U.S. from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days. Since then, federal courts have issued stays of that order, but there is significant confusion over what will happen moving forward.

Despite this uproar, I want it to be abundantly clear that Saint Louis University supports our students, faculty, physicians, and staff from the affected countries and all who are immigrants, refugees, asylees or otherwise at risk; you are part of the SLU community. You are not alone. We stand with you. You make our University stronger.

I write this message to you from Washington D.C., where I am attending the annual conferences of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

The theme of this year’s ACCU Meeting is “Inclusion on Campus: Exploring Diversity as an Expression of God’s Grandeur.” I can think of nothing more fitting for this moment in time. SLU Professor of Christian Ethics, Dr. Julie Hanlon Rubio, received praise for her presentations at two sessions this morning, the first of which was titled “An Incarnational View of Diversity” and the second focused on “Welcoming and Meeting the Needs of LGBTQ People Within a Vibrant Catholic Identity.” Our Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Jonathan Smith and I served on a panel this afternoon titled “Lessons Learned: Presidential Leadership on Diversity.”

Through formal sessions and informal conversations member universities have spent a significant amount of time discussing the executive order and how to best respond. At NAICU we will also have an opportunity to meet with a number of federal lawmakers and share the concerns this executive order created for our universities and our people.

The other presidents here in attendance and I recognize this situation remains very fluid. In consultation with staff back in St. Louis, we are recommending that any members of our international community from the seven countries listed in the order remain here in the U.S. If you are outside of the country or need assistance, please contact the Office of International Services.

As I continue to consider the numerous impacts of President Trump’s executive order and gather ideas from our colleagues at other institutions, I will send additional communications. In the meantime, please know that as I shared previously in the Statement of AJCU Presidents on Undocumented Students, we will take every action within the law to protect all members of our community, including Muslim students and faculty who are here on visas. Further communications will articulate how we will put our words into concrete actions.

As always, I welcome views and observations, and I appreciate those who have shared their fervent concerns for our community.


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.