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  • Writer's picturePatrick Killion

Words are not enough. We have to act!

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Dear FIRE Students, Faculty, Staff & Allies,

It is with a heavy but hopeful heart I reach out to you today.

We live in a nation and society where our collective potential is often outmatched by systematized disparities in income, education, criminal and social justice, health care, housing, and opportunity. Yet, we rarely take the time in peace or crisis to ask how we can play more substantial roles to disrupt these unjust and immoral inequities.

When I say we, here, I am pointing directly at me.

While I have worked hard to help our institution live up to the calling of providing opportunity acceleration for all, I have not worked hard enough to understand all the ways in which I can serve to disrupt our collective status quo in a manner that will lead to the world all of us deserve.

I can disrupt by listening.

I can disrupt by learning.

I can disrupt by sympathizing - acknowledging that my privilege may prevent me from ever truly understanding through shared experience.

I can disrupt by linking arms with my family, friends, colleagues, and students and saying we will no longer tolerate a world where some live in daily fear and profound trauma.

I can disrupt by using my privilege and responsibility to seek every means The University of Maryland and The First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) have to affect change.

I can disrupt by seeking and stating the specificity of injustice.

Black lives matter and we can no longer hide from the truth that we have not considered or committed enough to fulfilling this call.

While I cannot even pretend to have the answers to questions that confound us, I can promise to wake each day trying hard to remember my responsibilities to help disrupt systematized injustice. I will have days I fail, I will have days that I succeed and I will hope that I will surround myself with diverse, empowered, thoughtful minds and voices that will help the latter far outnumber the former.

I hope that my arm can connect with your arm. Please join the University of Maryland Office of Diversity and Inclusion for a Week of Solidarity and Reflection.

Pulling directly from a message from University of Maryland President Loh, I provide a list of resources that can help you both get the support you need and take action with us:

  • If you are interested in being in community with others, to process the pain, exhaustion, and fear, email the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at

  • If you seek individual support, email Dr. Chetan Joshi, director of the Counseling Center, at

  • If you seek spiritual support, email Campus Chaplain Holly Ulmer at and she will connect you to other campus chaplains as needed.

  • If you are interested in reading White Fragility or Me & White Supremacy, and discussing it with members of the community and leaders from embraceRace@umd, email Student Affairs at

  • If you are interested in working with your leadership team, unit, department or division to strengthen cultural competency, and engage in doing the work, email Dr. Carlton Green, director of Diversity Training and Education, at

  • If you want to connect with and/or receive support from leaders within our Nyumburu Center, email director Dr. Ron Ziegler at

  • If you are a member of a cultural student organization and want to be in community with others, email Brandon Dula, assistant director of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) at

  • If you have concerns or questions about current policies that could negatively impact you and members of your community, email Dr. Andrea Goodwin, director of Student Conduct, at

  • If you would like to know more about our University of Maryland Police Department and its policies and protocols, email Chief David Mitchell at

  • If you are interested in organizing other efforts that help our University and/or FIRE become more of what it professes and aspires to be, email any of us your ideas and we will help you organize and connect with others.

I close by asking all FIRE students to reach out at any time that we can provide you the support, relationship, and encouragement you deserve. I wish all of us peace and awakened hearts.

Sincerely, Patrick Patrick Killion Director of Discovery-Based Learning​ Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost University of Maryland


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