Message to the Community

DEPARTMENT(S): 
January 30, 2017

I am writing to share information and thoughts on the recent Executive Order barring refugees and immigrants from seven specific countries from entering the United States. Let me state clearly, this Executive Order is in direct conflict with the inclusive values of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 

I know that many in our community are feeling uncertain and vulnerable. I want to stress to you that WPI greatly values each of our students, faculty, and staff—no matter their race, religion, or country of origin—and we remain fully committed to fostering and defending an inclusive environment in which all are able to do their best work. As a university with a significant and growing global presence and impact, WPI is home to students and faculty who actively use their knowledge, skills, and training to address challenges around the world. The capabilities and perspective of students and faculty from different countries and cultures is critical to our success.

By now many of us have heard stories of professors, students, and researchers from the impacted countries who were traveling abroad when the ban was enacted and are now unsure about their ability to reenter the United States. Currently, we are aware of one WPI graduate student and one postdoctoral fellow immediately impacted by the Executive Order, and we are doing all we can to support their rightful return to their studies and work here.  In addition, we will provide guidance to our students, faculty and staff who may be impacted in the future by this action.

This is a dynamic situation with many legal challenges taking place across the country.  Please be assured that we are following the developments closely and will communicate with and assist affected individuals as the situation unfolds.  Until there is greater clarity about the legality of the Executive Order and all of its ramifications, we strongly advise students, faculty, and scholars from the affected nations, regardless of immigration status, to reconsider travel plans outside the US.  Those in need of specific advice can reach out to the International Students and Scholars Office or to our General Counsel, David Bunis.

This is a time of increased stress and uncertainty for many in our community, even those who are not directly impacted by this specific Executive Order. Please do not hesitate to take advantage of the helpful resources here on campus.  For students, I urge you to contact Counseling Services if you need support.  Faculty and staff members should use the Employee Assistance Program. 

Recognizing that members of the community may wish to come together to talk about this situation, we will have an open forum this evening at 4:30 PM in the Rubin Campus Center Odeum.  We welcome your participation.

Finally, please continue to act with understanding and compassion towards one another. I was at a professional conference last week where many college and university leaders voiced heightened concern that the core values shared across higher education are under significant threat. Be assured that we will continue to stand up for free inquiry and expression, inclusive excellence, and evidence-based reasoning—all of which are fundamental to WPI’s past success and future promise.