Message from the President: Honoring King's Legacy

Dear Colleagues,

As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I find myself considering his grand question: “Where do we go from here, chaos or community?”

This past year has posed extraordinary challenges for our shared work, and if the start of this new year is any indication, challenges will only grow in 2024. As we all mark this day in honor of Dr. King, I urge us all to pause and consider questions King raised throughout his life’s work: Where are we? Who are we? As we work to protect higher education and the role it plays to achieve a democracy that works for all, I also reflect on the question asked by Dr. King: “Why is the issue of equality still so far from solution in America, a nation that professes itself to be democratic, inventive, hospitable to new ideas, rich, productive and awesomely powerful?” He concluded that despite its “virtues and attributes” this country is “deeply racist” and is “flawed both economically and socially.” In the context of American higher education today, are the conclusions of Dr. King written in an essay, A Testament of Hope, published posthumously, still true today? I’ll let you answer the question.

It is clear we are at an inflection point for our work. We need to collectively chart our course forward and build a community of allies. We must continue to evolve our work, as we have for decades, in order to meet current campus needs and deliver on our commitment to advancing inclusive excellence in higher education. We must recalibrate our resources in order to best serve our students within new regulatory constraints, even as we reserve energy to fight those constraints and promote our work.

We know our members are experienced professionals committed to advancing educational opportunities for all, to cultivating safer campuses, and to promoting equity and inclusion so that the next generation of leaders can thrive. We are passionate about our work. We approach it with the thought, care, and respect that it demands and deserves. And our efforts matter, despite those who strive to connect diversity, equity, and inclusion work to any perceived shortcomings of higher education institutions today.

I encourage members to engage with educational resources offered through the King Center on educating on civic discourse and pursuing social change. Please also engage your campus communities in conversation on the National Day of Racial Healing. And, as we continue to reflect on King’s legacy, consider attending a session held by our colleagues at the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity this Wednesday, January 17, at 3 p.m. ET, titled “Diversity Is Essential: A Discussion on Excellence in Higher Education.” Panelists will offer thoughts on how our collective understanding of academic excellence demands consideration of diversity.

Let us find strength in our communities, both personal and professional, as we continue our work. I am grateful to each of you for being part of NADOHE, and for persistently striving for a better, more just future.


Paulette Granberry Russell, J.D.

President & CEO, NADOHE