Dear President Dudley,
My name is Michael Kern, and I’m a proud member of the class of 2006U. I have wonderfully fond memories of the university. I generally felt welcome on campus, and even though I didn’t fit the typical W&L mold, it was, and continues to be, home. I continue to donate to ensure that other students have the same opportunities for growth and discovery afforded me.
I am now a school psychologist at a private arts boarding school. Like many private schools, we struggle with issues related to diversity and making sure that all students feel welcome. In my role, I am helping lead the development of our new social-emotional curriculum, and a vital piece of that work will be ensuring our black students feel included. I can only imagine how much harder my job would be if our institution included a confederate general in its name.
While I greatly appreciate the work that President Lee did for the university, it is hard to overlook his military work attempting to ensure the legacy of slavery before arriving in Lexington. As I understand it, Lee’s motive for coming to Washington College was to help rebuild the south. At this time in our history, rebuilding means making sure that all students feel as welcome on campus as I did while I was there.
Therefore, I would like to add my name to the list of alumni who would like to see you and the Board of Trustees work to change our name (personally, I’m bias towards Washington and Liberty University, but I’m sure there are other wonderful options).
Thank you for your work for our community and for your time.
Michael Kern, Ph.D., NCSP (he/his)