September 6, 2017
Dear Campus Community,
It is with great concern that I write you about the recent decision by the Trump administration to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We have publicly supported the program by joining with 600 other colleges in signing the “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and Our Undocumented Students” https://www.pomona.edu/news/20
Since the President has given Congress a six-month deadline to find a solution for DACA, I encourage all of you to write your legislators to express your opinion. I have already met with Senator Casey and Representative Dent to encourage them to find a solution for the nearly 800,000 people currently protected by the DACA legislation.
The students protected by DACA were brought to this country by their parents. Under the Obama administration, they were asked to identify themselves with the understanding that they would not be punished or deported. Colleges and employers were then allowed to enroll them in colleges and hire them in businesses. Now that they have identified themselves, overcome incredible obstacles, and become part of the only country they know, our government is going to change the rules. I believe this is unfair and that we need to make our representatives know that we are stronger with the diversity of the DACA dreamers, and we urge them to find a reasonable resolution that allows them to stay in the country, complete their education, and ultimately become U.S. citizens.
We currently have a number of DACA students at Moravian, so this is a situation that affects our campus directly. We encourage those students to contact Liliana Madrid, director of intercultural advancement, so that we can work on ways to navigate the citizenship options that are currently available or that might be created quickly by Congress. Muhlenberg College just recently announced a meeting with immigration attorneys and concerned students should contact Liliana about getting to that meeting. Lastly, we recommend that DACA students do not travel abroad at this current time.
While we will comply with all federal laws, subpoenas, and warrants, we are not required to act as a facilitator/agent for the federal government; consequently, we will not be actively reporting immigration status unless directly requested by the federal government or its agents.
We will continue to protect FERPA information for all students, and we will actively help DACA students find legal status as soon as the path is clearly identified by Congress. We will also continue to work with our government officials to advocate for DACA students to help them find security in our shared country.
I want to remind everyone that we have confidential spaces on our campus for students and others who need to process this recent decision. Our staff in the counseling center and in the office of religious and spiritual life stand ready to support all members of our community. Please call 610-861-1510 to make an appointment with Chaplain Borger or one of our counselors.
Moravian College traces its founding to a group of immigrants who fled to Pennsylvania in 1741. An important component of that new way of life established here in Bethlehem was education, not just for the rich and powerful, but for all! We will continue to support all our students as they work to achieve their dreams, and we remain committed to grow our diversity because it makes us stronger.
Bryon Grigsby '90
College Opening and Charlottesville
August 17, 2017
Dear Moravian Community,
As we begin the new academic year, I want to welcome you most warmly. There will be new faces and new learning experiences for us all.
I also want to address the events that happened in Charlottesville recently. I struggle with the senseless violence I see growing in our country, and it pains me to watch events such as those which recently erupted on the University of Virginia campus. It is times like these that I am reminded of the rich history we have at Moravian and the values that we hold most dear.
Moravian College is affiliated with the Moravian Church, a peace church whose foundational doctrinal position is “...in all things love.” Our college subscribes to this foundational principle and thus we denounce all organizations that foster hate. Hate, discrimination, and prejudice have no place here, or anywhere, and will not be tolerated on Moravian’s campus. We echo the words of South African president Nelson Mandela, who wrote in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, “I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
The historical Moravians taught us the value of education. Education will be the key to our country’s future success, its health, and prosperity. We must foster critical thinking so that one fully understands, and is able to analyze, evidence as well as a variety of viewpoints. We must inculcate civil discourse and teach people to respond without personal attacks. We all need to remember how to listen to others with a genuine sense of inquiry and openness and self reflection in an attempt to understand another’s point of view.
Previous generations taught us that we must be brave and confront oppression and hatred. As many have noted in recent days, to be silent is to be guilty. Our own colleague, Dana Dunn asked in his blog for Psychology Today (August 14, 2017) “What to do? How do we deal with hate and extremism post-Charlottesville? Prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, the list is long—any and all hate aimed broadly at various diverse and minority groups in American society—must be confronted. Doing so in the classroom requires thought and care. Students must be educated about the difference between free speech rights and hate speech (and actions) designed to harm others. The signs and signals associated with Nazism (both in WWII Germany and the contemporary United States) need to be unpacked and explained.” With the same ferocity which our parents and grandparents fought tyranny and oppression of Nazi Germany in the twentieth century, in the coming years, we may be called upon to once again fight the hatred aimed at tearing down the fabric of our diverse nation, and it will be our mission to educate around these issues and others.
It is evident to me that many of the values we hold dear at Moravian were missing in Virginia over the weekend. We must be openly proud of our diversity and our educational mission. Colleges should be places of deep learning, respectful debate and dialogue, not places of violence, hatred and discrimination. It is my hope that as you return to campus you can join me in working on peaceful ways to solve our country’s divisions using the skills and values we hold so dear at Moravian College.
Response to U.S. position on Paris Agreement
June 7, 2017
Dear fellow ‘hounds,
As many of you have read in the news recently, the United States has announced it is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.
From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: “The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Leaders from cities, states, businesses, and colleges and universities across the country, including Moravian College, have signed the We Are All In pledge to state their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
This joint statement can be seen in the open letter to the international community here: We Are All In
It asserts that:
- In the absence of Federal support, states, cities, colleges and universities and businesses will pursue ambitious climate goals, to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.
- In the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities and businesses.
- We will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to under 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.
Bryon Grigsby ‘90
Response to Flag Issue
February 3, 2017
Dear Moravian Community,
I appreciate the passionate concern expressed for our international students, faculty, and community in light of the recent presidential executive order temporarily barring entry into the United States from seven specific countries. I believe deeply that our strength as a college community and society increases as we embrace diversity. We are a stronger country because of our immigrant roots, and we are a stronger college because of our international students.
I have given the petition to fly the flag at half-staff a great deal of consideration, and while I recognize the interest in a visual institutional response, I do not believe this action is the correct response for Moravian College, nor do I believe it will result in the desired message. I think doing so would continue to further divide us as a college and a nation by favoring one ideology over another and requiring us to explain what we mean by the action. It would continue to distract us from the main issues facing our college, and this country, and pit individual against individual. Finally, it is often a misunderstanding that the flag can be flown at half- staff at the will of a college president or other local official, which is not the case. For clarification regarding the Flag Code, and issuance of an order to lower the flag to half-staff as a memorial salute, please see http://www.usflag.org/nffhalfstaff.html
I will continue to advocate for the rights of international students, scholars, and staff to study and travel freely in the United States.
We are also exploring an initiative where we place banners of celebration in the hands of the Comenius statue. These banners would praise our educational history, mission and values.
I encourage all of you to seek out your elected representatives and let them know how you feel about the issues before our country. I also encourage you to support those within our community who are made to feel uncomfortable by these policy changes, and those that advocate a different position. Please show them what an inclusive, caring community looks and feels like-- one where they can openly debate diverse issues and opinions and still remain collegial. We have done this since 1742. May we remain true to that sentiment now and in the future.
Executive Order on Immigration
January 29, 2017
Dear Moravian Family,
I am writing to you concerning President Trump’s executive order this past Friday that may affect many of our international students.
I want to reassure you that we value individuals from diverse backgrounds, countries, religions, and ethnicities and how these differences enhance our College. Remember that the original Moravian settlers who founded our great institution were refugees escaping persecution, eventually finding refuge first at Zinzendorf’s estate, Herrnhut, and then in Bethlehem, PA. We understood then the importance of being open to many ways of thinking and we continue to value deeply the roles that the members of our community, whether or not they are immigrants or refugees, play on our campus and in our society.
While I know everyone is concerned, we do not know enough about the order or the more recent stay from a federal judge to react effectively. What we do know is that our international students are not at risk at this moment because they are not traveling. Those that are on campus and in classes are fine. We are encouraging them not to travel, if at all possible, until we know more and to carry their international documents with them at all time.
I am currently in Washington, D.C. for the annual president’s meeting with our representatives in the federal government. I am sure this will be one of the major topics, and by the end of our meetings, I expect to have a better understanding what the executive order means for Moravian and for international students studying on our campus. I have personal meetings scheduled with Congressman Charles Dent and Senator Pat Toomey’s staff.
While we will need to comply with the law, we join the Association of American Universities statement calling for an end to this travel ban that affects so many legal citizens, including students and faculty. You can read the AAU’s statement at http://www.aau.edu/news/
I ask all of you to give us time to understand the implications of this act and how best to respond as a community. Please rest assured that the safety of all of our students, staff and faculty is at the forefront of our efforts and concern.
2017 Winter Commencement - Northampton Community College
Thank you President Erickson, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, family and friends, and most importantly, all the graduates of the class of 2017. It is an honor to be with you today--to celebrate your accomplishments and to celebrate Northampton Community College’s 50th anniversary. This year we are also celebrating the 275th anniversary of Moravian College--a College whose mission and founding are very similar to that of that NCC. Both were founded to serve the local community by providing a high quality, affordable education. So it is an honor to be here today on this anniversary--the same year that both President Erickson, or as I hear he likes to be referred to as “Twinkle-toes Erickson” and myself are contestants on Dancing with the Stars. But more about that later.
Today we celebrate your commencement. Commencement is not an ending--in fact, it means beginning, it is the start of something not the end. So what are we starting?
I am a medievalist by training and so much of what you see up here on the dais and out in the audience--the pomp and circumstance and the way we are dressed comes from the Middle Ages. In fact, the commencement ceremony itself is the second longest continuous Western tradition. The only continuous tradition older than the graduation ceremony is the breaking of the host. So one could say we value education, next only to the value we place on celebrating God.
The dress you see us all wearing comes from the 12th century. At one time all faculty were clerics, and we wore clerical robes. Sometime after that period, a group of clerics thought it would be a good idea to modernize their dress and make it more fashionable for the times. Clerics involved with the Universities said they would not change and so today we still wear 12th-century regalia.
Those faculty who are wearing masters robes in the audience are actually wearing what was considered our teaching robes, or our work clothes. There was not a costume malfunction in the design of the master’s robes in that it appears that the arm comes out of the elbow. In fact, the little pocket that is created and hangs down from the arm is actually very useful as it provided faculty a place keep pieces of cheese and bread as snacks as they lectured during the 12th-century. It also provided a way of funding the faculty as students would put coins into the faculty’s sleeve if they thought the lecture was worthy of payment. Finally, the robes that you see before you have colorful hoods around their necks. These hoods were originally the monk’s cowl, the actual hood that cover their heads and kept them warm. Over the years, these cowls became colored and represent both the degree the individual attained and the school from which that degree was earned.
Another aspect from the Middle Ages that I think bears weight on our commencement ceremony here today is the concept of the quest. As you may already know, the stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the roundtable focus on the idea of the quest. Now the quest is often for a material object, more often than not, it is for the holy grail, the cup that caught the blood of Christ. The material object is simply the reason the Knights go out on the quest. But the material object is actually a fool’s quest. The true quest is what one learns about oneself, one’s self actualization, that can eventually improve the individual and be brought back to the society thus improving society. For example in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the quest is that Gawain will receive a blow from the Green Knight that may strike off his head. Over the course of the year-long quest to receive this blow, he learns that he loves life too much and is not willing to lay his life on the line for his king. He returns to the kingdom with this self realization and thereby renews his society.
Each one of you has just completed a quest. You started this quest when you enrolled at Northampton Community College. I am sure that many of you entered the world of college unsure, unconfident, and just a little bit scared, just like the Knights of the Roundtable enter the forest where they begin their year-long quest. Also like the Knights of the Roundtable, the fool’s quest is a material object--in this case a piece of paper called a diploma. The real quest was what you learned about yourself over the course of time. Sometimes that self-knowledge is not always positive, like it is in Gawain’s case. You may have learned that you were not good at a certain subject, or you may have learned that your dream career wasn't right for you. You may have had to switch majors multiple times, or you may have learned that a friend wasn’t really a friend. But hopefully, you have also learned what you are good at, and what makes a great friend. Hopefully you grew and you have greater understanding of who you are and what you believe in. Hopefully, you developed grit--an ability to bear down and get the job done to the best of your abilities and strengths. Self actualization is the real quest--to know who you are.
Here’s the bad news...quests never end. Whether Northampton Community College is the end of your formal education, or you are continuing on to a four-year college like Moravian, your quests will continue. Your next quest may be that first job which again is not about the material object of a paycheck or a big office. It is about your continued growth as a human being, about further understanding who you are. If you are continuing on for further education, you enter a new quest to see what skills you have. Through these continued quests, you are able to improve society by improving who you are. Then you each one of you will be able to leave your mark on society. What will your mark be? This is we call it a commencement, a beginning.
So that brings me back to dancing with the stars and twinkle toes Erickson and our shared quest to hold the mirror ball. Now you know from what I've talked about that the mirror ball is simply the fool’s quest for it is a material object. The true individual quest is what President Erickson and I will learn about ourselves. We may learn that we are even worse dancers than we currently believe. We may discover a new love for dancing. No matter what we learn the ultimate goal is to make our community stronger, and that is where we leave our mark on society. The ultimate quest is to provide valuable funding for the state theatre and the arts, and we hope that you all will come out and see us through this quest so that the Freddy awards can be funded. Just so you know, my name is spelled Grigsby and you write that in the best dancer category line.
A quest forces us to grow as individuals and get out of our comfort zones. Life would be pretty dull without quest--without a reason to stretch and see what we can really do. A quest helps us realize that which we are good at and that which we are not so good at, and we are able to return to our society and make it stronger by first making ourselves stronger.
Congratulations on completing this quest. Remember that the material object is always the fool’s quest and that the true quest is self actualization. Good luck and may God bless you and your future quests with great success. Thank you.
LVB.com: President Grigsby Serves on "Future of Higher Education" Panel
On Wednesday, April 5, 2017 Lehigh Valley Business held The Future of Higher Education Symposium, which featured a panel of local college presidents as they addressed affordability, enrollment challenges and opportunities, the increasing role that technology plays in education and more.
Click here to read the article from Lehigh Valley Business.
WDIY/88.1: Spotlighting Three Lehigh Valley Leaders on LV Discourse
By Shamus McGrogran | May 25, 2017
Host Sally Handlon focuses her program on three Lehigh Valley leaders. Sally welcomes guests Pamela Varkony, recent recipient of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation's 2017 Woman of Influence, Dr. Mark Erikson, president of Northampton Community College, and Dr. Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian College.
Dr. Erikson and Dr. Grisby recently shed their roles and challenged themselves beyond their comfort levels to participate in the Lehigh Valley's Dancing with the Stars.
(Original air-date: 5/18/17)
To learn more and listen to the interview from WDIY/88.1, please click here.
LVB.com: Behind the List with Bryon Grigsby of Moravian College
By Christopher Holland, March 13, 2017
"The Greater Lehigh Valley is blessed with many colleges and universities that help students prepare for careers across all industries. From arts to health care to management and beyond, the options for earning a valuable education seemingly are endless.
Here to answer this week's “Behind the List” questions is Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian College in Bethlehem."
WDIY/88.1: Moravian College President Dr. Bryon Grigsby on LV Discourse
Moravian College's 16th President, Dr. Bryon Grigsby, joins host Sally Handlon on this Lehigh Valley Discourse.
Handlon and Dr. Grigsby talked on WDIY shortly after his inauguration in April 2014; now it's time to revisit and learn what's new, expanding, and changing for Bethlehem's oldest college.
(Original air-date: 9/15/2016)
The Value of the Liberal Arts
By Bryon L. Grigsby '90
The value of the liberal arts has been under question for over a century in this country. However, new data demonstrates that the liberal arts degree may be more valuable than ever before.
According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), the liberal arts helps students to think critically and communicate effectively, to present ideas from multiple perspectives and viewpoints, and to solve complex problems. While liberal arts colleges only graduate 3% of college graduates, one-third of Fortune 500 CEO’s have liberal arts degrees. The myth still persists, however, those students who graduate with humanities and social science degrees will only find work serving fast food.
The AAC&U has recently completed a long-term study titled, How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment, found that humanity or social science majors make on average more money in their career than those who majored in professional or pre-professional programs. Also the unemployment rate was only 1% higher for liberal arts majors versus professional programs and only 0.4% for people over the age of 41.
The liberal arts student has become more valuable because the needs of the workforce have changed. College faculty are trying to prepare students for jobs that currently do not exist, but will exist in 5 years. They are also trying to prepare students with information that changes or may become irrelevant in less than 18 months. Lastly, they are preparing young people for 3-5 different careers over their lifetimes. It is a daunting task for any college professors, but the liberal arts professor is not educating them for a specific job, but imbuing them with skills that are transferable across many jobs and careers. Furthermore, they are teaching students how to learn for themselves and develop new skills as society changes.
While the myth persists about the value of a liberal arts degree, the data demonstrates something very different. The skills developed through the liberal arts—problem solving, critical thinking, and communication—are all skills sought after by employers regardless of the student’s major.
Liberal Arts Colleges are responding to the need to put theory into practice, and many colleges now have externships, paid internships and even co-ops where students can see how well their soft skills work in the real world settings. Moravian is committed to providing a solid liberal arts and professional background for all of its students.
Bryon L. Grigsby is president of Moravian College, a private liberal arts college in Bethlehem, PA.