We Will Not Forget
In light of the death of George Floyd, as the most recent and horrific example of institutional racism and injustice in the United States, anger and frustration have exploded into the streets. Whether expressed through peaceful protest or through civil unrest that has turned violent and unsafe, the underlying issues continue to be at the absolute heart of our work to transform lives and society.
Understanding, empathy, and acceptance tend to grow as education takes root. Our work to advance education is critical to the social, cultural, and economic progress that is necessary to reduce barriers between people so we can move forward together. Intolerance and prejudice are not unique to the United States, as demonstrations across the globe have shown. Many nations struggle with truth and reconciliation following generations of inattention, inequity, and racism. The global response in recent days highlights the need for intensified efforts in support of systemic change—a need that CASE continues to address through our work in support of diversity and inclusion in the advancement professions and in the institutions we serve.
At our global all-staff meeting on Monday, I asked that everyone take a minute of silence to consider what we can do—individually and collectively—to address the issues of race and prejudice that continue to stand in the way of our vision of a more just, equitable, and compassionate country and world. And as I sat silently, I could not help but reflect on the all-too-many images and names that came to mind. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. Michael Brown. Breonna Taylor. Laquan McDonald. And now, George Floyd.
I say their names—and ask you to do the same. Each of these names, and the many like them, comes with a story—and a family, and dreams for a better life, and pride and potential that will never now be fulfilled.
I turn to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for guidance. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And, “the time is always right to do what is right.”
We will not and must not forget. These deaths—as only the most recent reminders of the racism and unreasoning hatred that infect the body politic—must continue to remind us of the work yet to do, work that will require intelligence, energy, and engagement. We must stand up and say, unequivocally, that we are committed to racial justice and equal opportunity on our campuses and in our communities, that we will work today and every day in support of the role that education plays in advancing a more just and equitable society.
Thank you for your support and leadership against intolerance and injustice.
President and CEO, CASE
About the author(s)
Sue Cunningham is president and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which supports more than 3,600 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations in order to advance their institutions. As CASE president and CEO, she provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in more than 80 countries. She became president of CASE in March, 2015.
Cunningham engaged CASE and thousands of its volunteers in a comprehensive strategic planning process resulting in Reimagining CASE: 2017- 2021, an ambitious and comprehensive framework for serving CASE’s members and championing education worldwide. This volunteer and member engagement extends into a comprehensive effort to refine CASE’s governance structure to more effectively support CASE’s global reach and service to members.
Under her leadership CASE acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey and created AMAtlas. CASE has reinvigorated its global advocacy agenda and is engaged in reviews of the curriculum across all advancement disciplines and an update of CASE’s management and reporting standards and guidelines, which operate as the industry-leading set of standards. She is most proud of CASE’s efforts to diversify the advancement professions and CASE’s commitment to talent management, within the organization and across CASE’s membership.
Cunningham serves on the steering committee of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, is a member of the Council of Higher Education Management Associations, the International Women’s Foundation, and serves on the fundraising committee for the Aurora Foundation.
Prior to CASE, she served as vice-principal for advancement at the University of Melbourne and as the director of development for the University of Oxford. She served as director of development at Christ Church, Oxford, and as director of external relations at St. Andrews University.
She is an honorary fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a recipient of the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and is a CASE Crystal Apple Award recipient. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from Middlesex University.