New Bradley President apologizes for ‘insensitive’ initial comments on racial tension, violence

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The new Bradley University President has issued an updated statement and apology after receiving criticism for an email he sent that some said was insensitive to racial injustice issues across the country.

Friday, new president Stephen Standifird apologized for the statement, saying:

I regret and apologize for the statement and its unintended impact and message. It was weak, insensitive and most importantly not a reflection of my personal values and beliefs. My intent was not to distract from the global and justified outrage resulting from the horrible deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless names of other Black people in our country at the hands of systemic racism. My intent was to promote community and I missed the mark. I believe Black Lives Matter and these deaths are unjustifiable. I want to acknowledge the pain, frustration and sadness that accompany events such as these, especially for our Black students who experience racism. Racial violence is the real issue, and I want to publicly denounce such, especially understanding the history of racism that has negatively impacted Black communities and other minoritized populations.

Stephen Standifird, Bradley President

Standifird added that he’s taking three steps aimed at creating more understanding, including new annual full-tuition scholarships:

  • Create a Racial Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group of internal and external partners who will provide input and work closely with me to identify future actions. This committee will be led by Glenn Ross MBA ’84 and a current student. The committee will also include the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, additional students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. 
  • Provide upgrades to the Garrett Center, which houses the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This is an important space on campus and based on my tour of the facility, does not appropriately reflect the importance of diversity and inclusion on our campus. Upgrades will include, but are not limited to, technological enhancements, better lighting and other improvements to the physical spaces. This work will begin immediately and parts will be completed by the time students arrive in August.
  • Partner with Peoria Public Schools, including Quest Charter Academy, to offer six need-based, full-tuition scholarships annually that will continue to strengthen and enhance the diversity of Bradley’s student body and student experience. 

Standifird, who marked his first official week as Bradley’s sole president this week, said he will provide an update on these initial steps on June 30, and that more actions will follow as he receives information from advisory groups and listens to the Bradley community.

His initial statement did not reference the specific deaths of Floyd, Taylor, or Arbery, nor did it express explicit support for peaceful protests. He instead focused on the school’s message of diversity.

“I ask for your patience and assistance with this process,” Standifird said on Friday. “[…] I value your feedback as we work hard to create a more inclusive environment, a university for all. We owe you better, and will deliver.”

For his full letter, click here.

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