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Being Kind and Caring for Ourselves

February 14, 2022

Two years ago, the pandemic became part of our collective reality, vocabulary and day-to-day experiences. Shortly after that, the murder of George Floyd shone a spotlight on systemic racism and related issues plaguing the United States. And just over a year ago, a violent attack on our nation’s capitol demonstrated the vast political and social divides among Americans.

These serious struggles have put a strain on all of us to one degree or another. I want to take a moment to focus on tenacity and hope. And I want to talk about resilience, gratitude and grace in the face of conflict and change.
I came to Stony Brook University in February 2020, and I can honestly say, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here, in this fiercely strong, collaborative and supportive community.

I feel honored and privileged to be among each of you as we work to create a culture where caring, respect, civility, diversity, equity and inclusion are more than mere words … they’re the foundation of how we conduct ourselves across the Stony Brook community. A collective entity we are all part of, and have a dynamic role in contributing to, in both good times and tough.

Amidst all the trials, tribulations, hardships and downright fears the world has faced over the past two years, I’ve seen us band together to provide much-needed resources that have protected our campus population and surrounding communities. We’ve offered mental and physical healthcare services, and brought back in-person learning, teaching and working, always knowing we’re stronger together … the undeniable Power of We!

All along this uncharted journey, so many of you have exhibited the values that are a hallmark of our University, as you steadfastly pursued and upheld our mission of providing equal access to a world-class education. This included respecting and embracing our differences, practicing civility, promoting inclusion, welcoming freedom of expression, encouraging civil discourse, and taking a firm stand against intolerance and insensitivity in all venues and forms.
Difficult times can bring feelings of division and even conflict. But we have to rise above them to stay within our individual and collective core values, so that we all benefit. Caring and compassion are the keys to unlocking harmony and well-being among all of us. It is the foundation of belongingness. And even the little gestures can mean so much – like meeting someone right where they are, accepting them for who they are, and working to build bridges of communication and understanding, starting right now.

I am committed to building a culture of kindness and caring all across our campus and I hope you are too. It requires the partnership of every one of us. It involves being present. And, it means staying true to the heartfelt reasons that inspired each of us to go into the fields of higher education and healthcare in the first place: to put students and patients first; to be there for our colleagues; and, to hold ourselves to the highest standards by bringing the best of what you have, every day!
Let’s also remember to be kind to ourselves. Endurance aside, it’s no shame to feel a little worn down … or scared … or even angry over what we’ve all been battling over the past two years. Please keep in mind that the University provides resources, such as those listed at the end of this note. Remember too …

You are not alone!
We hear you!
We value you!
We need you!
We are stronger with you!
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay affirmed.
Judi Brown Clarke, Ph.D.
Vice President for Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer


Emotional and DEI Support Resources

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Healthier U

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO)

The Ombuds Office

Student Support Team

Diversity at Stony Brook

Caring, Respect, Civility