Healing ourselves through moments of empathy

September 23, 2021

Dear La Salle community:

In June, the University’s Interim President and Faculty Senate President released La Salle’s Joint Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report, Begin Again: Truth and Transformation. The report states: “The University’s exacting task is to build a path forward that acknowledges not only our wounds and difficulties, but also our strengths and tremendous possibilities for coming together to take decisive steps to begin again.”

As a precursor to the University’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) strategic planning process, and in the spirit of together and by association, the Lasallian principle that calls us to remain united for the mission of Lasallian education, the Office of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion plans to organize a series of community circles on the Commission’s report. These conversations will be called “Healing Ourselves through Moments of Empathy” (HOME). The basic aim is to create a compassionate and welcoming space for the University community to reflect and listen in small group settings, so we can build a path forward to achieve a more equitable and inclusive campus environment. As theologian and author Nell Morton observes, “We empower one another by hearing the other to speech.” Additionally, these conversations are intended to give the community the space to digest and internalize the Joint Commission’s report to provide a strong base of understanding before commencing the JEDI strategic planning process.

With leadership from the Office of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion, a campus team will work to organize and facilitate these HOME circles. Drawing on the pedagogy of the healing circle, the team will organize appropriately sized conversations with University affinity groups. These will allow participants to engage in deep listening, work toward healing wounds of the past, and transform ourselves into the beloved community. The campus team will develop more open sessions, too, that further our work toward building mutually respectful relationships.

The campus team includes:

  • Rosemary Barbera, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Social Work
  • Deborah Byrne, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Nursing
  • Shakeya Currie Foreman, J.D., Employee and Labor Specialist, Human Resources
  • Jason Diaz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Integrated Business, Science and Technology
  • Ling Liang, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Education
  • Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D. Min., Vice President, Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Religion and Theology
  • Candace Robertson-James, DrPH, Assistant Professor and Director of Urban Public Health Programs
  • Cherylyn Rush, Director, Multicultural Affairs, Student Development and Campus Life
  • Elizabeth Schroeder, Director, Business Leadership Fellows Program
  • Michael Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication
  • Christopher Vito, Senior Director of Strategic Communications, Enrollment, Marketing and Communications

Registration information and additional details will follow in forthcoming correspondence later this semester and into Spring 2022.

The Commission’s report concludes, “These times beckon us to weave equity, diversity, and inclusion—through a lens of justice—onto the fabric of our campus environment.” As we look forward to HOME, we invite you to spend time in discernment with the Commission’s report and ask, ‘What do you hear? What do you see?’


Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D. Min., M.A. ’95
Vice President of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion