Important Message from President McAllister

The death of Mr. George Floyd is a tragedy that shocks us, saddens us and affects us, especially because Mr. Floyd was our neighbor, a fellow Minnesotan. The manner of his death - a man rendered physically powerless, crying he could not breathe - challenges our humanity. The desperation he must have felt, the fear he must have felt, makes us weep. 

The loss and confusion we feel at the death of Mr. Floyd is compounded by the rioting and violence, which create chaos, uncertainty and fear. The violence is in stark contrast to the courageous individuals who engage in peaceful protest. We struggle to understand, to find a way forward. 

In these troubled times, Saint John’s University is a source of stability. Our Catholic beliefs tell us what is important: a belief in the dignity of each person; a special concern for those less fortunate, and a sense of solidarity among all people. Our Benedictine values guide us: living and working in community, praying together and listening intently. Because of our beliefs and our values, we are hopeful. 

In partnership with our colleagues at the College of Saint Benedict, we - the students, faculty and staff - must affirm the dignity of Mr. Floyd and make this tragedy a turning point in the lives of our neighbors and indeed our own lives. 

Mr. Floyd was powerless and unheeded. Our brothers and sisters of color tell us the law, which is intended to protect the weak from the strong, can fail to do so, often at the most important moments. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us acutely aware of others, particularly the vulnerable, those most at risk. We are prepared for this moment. We can make listening to and affirming the least among us an urgent mission for our Saint John’s community. 

Our campus ministry team, led by Margaret Nuzzolese Conway and Father Nick Kleespie, will seek out opportunities for our students to listen and affirm. Perhaps sharing a meal, extending a helping hand to those different from us, inviting the voiceless to speak to our community, or student athletes coaching immigrant children.  

Our new curriculum offers interesting opportunities for our faculty to use literature, the arts, sciences and social sciences to discuss the human condition and our responsibilities to one another.  

And we will include our Student Senate in these efforts. 

Saint Benedict taught us to listen with “the ear of the heart.” As we listen, the path forward becomes clear. 

Eugene McAllister

Interim President

Saint John’s University