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Letter to the Cleary Community

A letter to the Cleary community regarding the attacks on the capitol building from Dr. Emily Barnes, Interim President

Dear Cleary community,

It has been a week full of emotions, disbelief, and despair as more information becomes available about the depth of planning and malicious intent that led to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. While we are hundreds of miles from our nation’s capital, the perspectives and rhetoric that led to the situation have been building across the country, including our community, for a very long time.

I did not respond immediately because I was reflecting. I had to step back long enough to see this from a full scope. I did not want to react.

All this time, all I could think about was how important education is. We are living in a culture of information. Our biggest threat is what we don’t know. With so many platforms for information, Americans are having a hard time knowing what or who to believe.

Everybody has a voice and a platform. Messages are sent recklessly by people who don’t know the value of words, don’t know how critical what they say really is, or how powerful statements can be. In this climate, I didn’t want to send out words carelessly, without deep, critical thought.

The Cleary Mind demands that we respond to the events of last week. First, we must unequivocally denounce any act of violence, bigotry or malicious intent, without exception. Then, through careful study, driven by the values of The Cleary Mind, we must ask questions, explore the problems in our society, and seek to understand how to move forward. If we continue to cancel anyone who does not agree with us, we will never snuff out the rage that is exploding across the nation.

At this point in our history, I am so glad I am an educator. I chose this profession to strive for a greater good and meet a higher purpose in our society. Cleary University business degrees are ground in the values of The Cleary Mind: actions grounded in ethics, civil and open communication, and critical thinking, among others.

Democracy is a wonderful thing, but only if we uphold its true ideals. It is something that requires maintenance and attention, care and focus.

In 1787, Benjamin Franklin walked out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention. Someone shouted, “Doctor – what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

Franklin replied, “A republic – if you can keep it.”

As we move forward, I call on everyone in the Cleary community to seek civility and be the paragon of what it means to be American. I believe higher education should not be political. We should seek to expand our knowledge and through careful examination of sources, question, advocate and come together in civil discussion for the benefit of all.

Emily Barnes
Interim President, Cleary University