Most of you are aware of the fact that I am an immigrant to this great country, having come here many years ago in pursuit of a better education and a brighter future. I am very proud of the fact that I recently became a U.S. citizen, and I am also quite aware of the anxiety and the challenges faced by our international community in light of the recent Executive Order suspending entry into the United States from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days.
Southeast Missouri State University has a long history of accepting and educating international students. We value the different perspectives and cultures that our international students bring to our University and into our region. They enrich the educational experiences of our students, faculty and staff. They also bring a global dimension to our culture and build lifelong friendships and networks which can only enhance the social, cultural and trade relationships between our countries. Mutual understanding comes as a result of personally knowing each other – sharing our cultures, values, opinions and insights.
It is extremely important that you understand that this University will continue to welcome, support and assist our international students, faculty and staff. They are an important part of our University life and we will stand with them and beside them.
Currently we have five students from the affected countries who are studying here in Cape Girardeau. We have reached out to each of those students to offer assistance and support. We do not currently have any faculty or staff from the countries as outlined in the Executive Order. We are consulting with legal counsel to ascertain legal issues and rights as they pertain to our international students, faculty and staff, and we will reach out to federal and state elected officials as appropriate. I want to assure you that we will do everything within the power of the law to protect the members of our University community, regardless of their religion or country of origin.
To summarize, I believe I understand the anxiety and the fear of the unknown that many of our international students, faculty, and staff are currently facing. I would invite those affected to contact our Office of International Education and Services, or please call on me as I truly care, and I want to reassure you. As you may remember, my inaugural theme was and continues to be “We Are One!” There is no better time than now to stand together as a University community to ensure that we are doing everything we can to instill the value that “We Are One” at Southeast Missouri State University.