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Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty:

August 24, 2010

After the news of Yeardley Love's death reached me in Ann Arbor last May, I began to think about what we as a community could learn from this horrific event and how we might begin to identify the characteristics of a caring community, one in which members recognize their mutual responsibility to each other.

It is important that we continue the conversation that began after Yeardley's death. On Sept. 24, Day of Dialogue: Toward a Caring Community will provide an opportunity for open, honest discussion about who we are -- our strengths, our shortcomings, and our individual responsibility as members of this and other, larger communities. It is my hope that a full day of open and vigorous discussion about violence, hate, bias, and violence prevention will bring us together in new ways so that each of us can feel safe to participate fully in the life of the University.

Sanda Iliescu, the University professor and artist who has taken on the challenge of envisioning a public art project to reflect our hopes and aspirations for the day, captured its essence when she wrote, "We seek to balance the powerful sense of mourning and grief that this tragedy has inspired with the passionate desire for change and healing it has also kindled."

Many of our colleagues are giving generously of their time to create an extraordinary day that they believe -- with your participation -- will have a profound impact on us individually and collectively.

They have tapped facilitators from the top ranks of our faculty to guide the discussions and to ensure that groups are unafraid to explore difficult topics. At the same time, our student leaders have been working on Let's Get Grounded, an important initiative that encourages mutual respect, teaches us to recognize dangerous situations and empowers us to take appropriate action.

Sept. 24 is meant to be the genesis of a dialogue that continues throughout the semester and beyond. It is not intended to be a day for solutions, but for questions that will keep us talking. Solutions will come later.

I have included a brief overview of the day below, as well as the link to the Day of Dialogue website. Registration is required for all events so we can prepare adequately. The deadline is Monday, Sept. 20.

I invite you to join this extraordinary dialogue. Come for all of the day or part of the day, but please come.

Very truly yours,

Teresa A. Sullivan
President