A campus ethos of mutual respect, inclusion, responsible action, and high achievement:
President Horner’s message in the wake of George Floyd’s killing
The killing on May 25, 2020 of George Floyd, a defenseless, Black man in the custody of the Minneapolis (MN) police, has sparked widespread pain and protest in the U.S. and around the world. Personally, this incident takes me back to my undergraduate years in the late 1960s when the U.S. civil rights movement and opposition to the Viet Nam War led to similar scenes of protest, chaos and destruction on U.S. campuses and in U.S. cities. As a U.S. citizen, it is painful, indeed, to see the manifestations of my country’s “original sins” (slavery and treatment of Native Americans) in such tragic, current events, including but not limited to the killing of George Floyd.
The American College of Greece (ACG) is not located in the U.S. and the majority of ACG students are not U.S. citizens. However, ACG’s legal and philosophical foundation is U.S.-based; the policies ACG upholds and the educational program ACG offers are drawn from the U.S. experience.
The origin of ACG’s mission as an educational institution is in the affirmation of the dignity of all people. The Congregational women missionaries who founded our school in Smyrna, Asia Minor in 1875 were motivated by a passion for personal and social transformation. They welcomed Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Turkish girls into their classrooms at a time when tensions between these communities could be significant and when the education of girls was not highly valued.
In the same spirit, our institutional forebearers selected a school motto, Non Ministrari sed Ministrare (Not to be Served, but to Serve), taken from Matthew 20:28: “… just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve”. Not coincidentally, this motto is shared with Wellesley College (MA), founded in 1870, just five years before ACG, and one of the premier women’s colleges in the U.S. The salient point of the motto is that education is a gift intended to lead to service, to benefit not only oneself but others.
Today, among the four core values that ACG seeks to live out in daily practice is a “campus ethos of mutual respect, inclusion, responsible action, and high achievement”. Based on this core value, we welcome students, faculty and staff into our learning community without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or gender orientation.
Even as the U.S. is now called to rededicate itself to making the changes necessary to move towards, in the words of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, “a more perfect Union”, so too do we at ACG, in recognition of the precious inheritance we have received from our founders and in furtherance of the core values we espouse, continuously rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of “a more perfect institution”. We do so at this moment, in these times in memory of George Floyd.
David G. Horner, PhD
The American College of Greece