Welcome to SLU’s first ever Virtual Graduation Celebration!
Check out the program below and be sure to browse through the interactive journal.
Message from the Dean to the Class of 2020
To the Graduates of the Class of 2020, their families and friends, and the broader SLU community.
I am very happy to extend my heartfelt congratulations on reaching this day—a very proud moment for us all. In recognizing your accomplishments, we also thank your families and friends for supporting you through your educational pursuits. As you know, this year’s graduates will be receiving their diplomas in the mail. You will also be invited to walk in next year’s graduation procession, on a real stage, with all the pomp and circumstance of an in-person commencement ceremony.
I want to take this opportunity to thank our extraordinary faculty and staff for their efforts in helping you get to this point—and especially for doing so in these most difficult of times. We have a faculty and support staff whose level of dedication to our students in unmatched anywhere in the academy.
That said, I want to take a minute to reflect on this moment in which we find ourselves and to ask, “What are the lessons learned from this terrible pandemic?” We are after all a school, so asking this kind of question comes naturally to us. We are also a school that is dedicated to public service and social justice, so let’s look at these times through a lens that reflects our values. There are many lessons, but I want to focus on just three.
LESSON #1: THE BIG PICTURE IS ESSENTIAL
We constantly need to remind ourselves to view our personal and collective circumstances from 20,000 feet up. From that height, the big picture is clearer than it’s even been. There is something fundamentally and structurally wrong with our system. When our health care system fails us despite the enormous resources at our disposal; when corporations and politicians put profits before people; when workers lose their jobs and suddenly do not have food to put on the table; and when the burdens of a disaster consistently—consistently—fall disproportionately on the poor and on black and brown people, then we have to say to ourselves, there is something fundamentally wrong with the socio-economic systems. It is my hope that your education at SLU has provided you with a bird’s eye perspective for looking at the challenges we are facing.
LESSON #2: LEADERSHIP COUNTS
That hasn’t always been so obvious in the past—especially when it came to politics. How often have we heard, “the candidates are all the same,” or “nothing will change,” (assuming it won’t get better but ignoring the fact that it could get a lot worse). But those clichés just don’t stand up when we are confronted with failure to respond to critical needs; failure to obtain and distribute resources to keep people alive; failure to make governmental appointments based on competency; and failure to shape the public discourse in a positive and inclusive way. All this, and so much more, have led to truly disastrous consequences. In our School, we have taught that knowledge of history, science, ideas, and research are all important for decision-making. We believe that practical skills and experience are just as important as theoretical learning. We think of ourselves as a School of scholars and practitioners, of thinkers and doers. But we have also taught that to do the right thing requires compassion, a moral compass, and a vision for a better world—one that is more equitable, just, and humane.
LESSON #3: ADVOCACY IS KEY
The pandemic has made it crystal clear that health care is a human right, one that must be available to everyone. Your access to life-saving care should not depend on whether or not you’re a citizen or you have a job that happens to come with insurance. You shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical care because the cost of care and medications are so expensive. You shouldn’t have to choose between your health and paying the rent. There are so many societal ills that need to be remedied and so many structural problems that need to be addressed. And yet, even the most fundamental, humane considerations that go into the development and implementation of public policies are contested terrain. And this is where unions, community organizations, and social movements for change come into play. As this moment in our history makes clear, we need social justice advocates and mass mobilization more than ever. And that goes to heart of our mission at SLU: to prepare future leaders to become the change-makers of tomorrow.
Although the bird’s eye view of society is important, the ground-level view is equally important. We hope you keep your eyes on both. And whether you are—or will become—a leader, a researcher, an organizer, or a worker in public service, we hope that you use the knowledge and skills you have gained at the School for Labor and Urban Studies to make our city, country, and world a better place.
You have persevered through unprecedented circumstances that no one could have foreseen even six months ago. Some of you have endured severe hardships and personal tragedies. But in the face of almost unimaginable obstacles, you have adapted on a dime and succeeded in reaching your goals. There are no words sufficient to express my admiration for you all.
This is a pivotal moment in our history. It is time for a paradigm shift that can empower poor and working-class people of this country to take action to ensure that the benefits of our society and our economy are distributed equitably to everyone, not just to the privileged few.
Every day, someone from this School and this University—someone like you—is out there changing the world in ways both big and small. You have the tools now. You have the knowledge. We are counting on you.
Congratulations, Classes of 2019 and 2020.
Gregory Mantsios, Ph.D.
POST-SCRIPT AS OF JUNE 2, 2020
To our SLU Community:
I know that every person in our School community shares my anguish and rage over the senseless murder of George Floyd by a white police officer. Our hearts go out to George Floyd’s family and friends. If there is any consolation in his death, it may be that his murder is a moment of reckoning with the political and moral chaos engulfing our country and the world right now.
George Floyd is only one of thousands of African Americans who have lost their lives to police brutality, and his is only the most recent in a string of racially motivated killings and incidents in the last few months. His murder comes in the midst of a pandemic that to date has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and sickened millions more, and has also created enormous economic hardship, both of which have fallen most heavily on people of color. America can no longer deny it—we have come face-to-face with the deep stain of racism that has haunted our nation since its founding.
George Floyd’s tragic death may finally have brought our country to a tipping point. For one thing, it was brutal in the extreme; for another, it vividly exposed a state-sanctioned, military form of policing that is directed overwhelmingly at people of color. As a result, millions of people have taken to the streets to say, “Enough!” This is not the first time Americans have risen up in outrage to demand an end to racism. Let us hope that this time protest brings about
meaningful and permanent change.
The principles of justice and equality for all lie at the heart of our mission as a School. In that sense, we are a partner in the ongoing struggle for social change; we can make a contribution in this fight to eradicate racism. I, for one, feel more determined than ever to help our School grow and fulfill its mission.
Gregory Mantsios, Ph.D.
SLU Alumni Association
We are enormously proud of our alumni, and whether it’s been two years or twenty-two years, we look forward to welcoming them back to their alma mater.
Are you an alumna of CUNY SLU or of the Joseph S. Murphy Institute (CUNY School of Professional Studies)? Whether you graduated two years ago or twenty two years ago, we want to hear from you! Join School Of Labor and Urban Studies Alumni Association
CUNY SLU alumni may sign-up for one-on-one career and professional development sessions through SLU’s Office of Career Services. Click here for more information and to schedule an appointment with a Career Services Counselor.
Support SLU students in their pursuit for knowledge and justice by donating to the SLU Foundation! The SLU Foundation will assist in developing, improving and increasing the school’s programs, resources, and facilities to enable it to provide more extensive educational and research opportunities and services.
The Alumni Talk Event Series
The SLU Alumni Association hosts the Alumni Talks event series, as well as in-person and virtual networking events. Alumni are invited to host, facilitate, and plan upcoming events in the Alumni Talk series. Do you have a topic you would like to talk about? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit CUNY SLU’s Center for Public Engagement for more information on special events and seminars throughout the year.
Are you interested in enrolling at CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies? Find out more about joining the SLU community.