On August 18, Transylvania hosted a press conference announcing the launch of Meeting of America, an unprecedented endeavor to decrease the painful, dangerous division in the country by gathering individuals from all backgrounds and beliefs to recognize shared humanity, values, and concerns. It kicks off in Kentucky next month, charting the path for the rest of the country.
I was honored to speak at this special announcement featuring the mayors of Lexington and Somerset, and excited to see our press conference covered on every local television station – TV news stories can be seen here – and aired on a Kentucky Public Radio story statewide. You can also find the press conference video plus Meeting of America’s one minute promo video and experience demo available online.
Colene Elridge ’05 was one of the participants in the program’s pilot. Elridge, who is the current chair of Transylvania’s Board of Regents, says she found the experience powerful.
“Right now, it’s easier than ever to let our differences divide and define us. Differences can be scary without understanding, and Meeting of America is an easy way to start,” Elridge said. “I loved that I got to meet people who live close to me but have very different life experiences than I do. You can start to see where those similarities are.”
My own comments at the press conference spoke to our unique role in fostering collaborative conversations across differences:
As a leading institution in higher education, this is in line with our values – coming together across backgrounds and beliefs on a campus, because a campus should be a marketplace of ideas and a place for civil, engaging dialogues. Young people all around here are giving us hope that we can do better, but we have to do more than just hope things will get better… all of us can be part of the solution.
Our university community is invited to join conversations beginning the week of October 24. This is a partnership that I am very proud to support, and I hope to see the Transy community participate en masse.Please consider joining me in championing this opportunity within your communities. If you share my sense of what a special opportunity this is for Transy to lead, register to participate in a discussion on the Meeting of America website.