Yesterday, like Americans throughout the country and good people throughout the world, we in the Mary Baldwin community were stunned and distressed beyond words at the terrorist attacks on America. Students, faculty and staff talked, cried, prayed, held hands, and tried to grapple with the enormous implications of what had happened. But we did not shut down, did not cancel classes, did not abandon our promised task of educating and supporting our students. Instead we gathered together at a prayer service and offered counseling and support.
We have urged the students not to leave campus but to stay here, where you and we know where they are, and to go on with the business of being students, calmly and with purpose.
I’d like to share with you the words of Dr. Cynthia H. Tyson, President of Mary Baldwin University, who spoke during the prayer service, officiated by the Reverend Patricia Hunt, Chaplain of Mary Baldwin. The First Presbyterian Church, across the street from Mary Baldwin’s administration building, was packed with students, faculty, staff, and members of the Staunton community. Here are President Tyson’s words:
“It is at moments of great distress such as this national calamity that we come together as a college -all of us: faculty, staff, and students.
We stand together, firm and strong. We support those who are frightened and anxious for family and friends.
Some of you are here from foreign countries: this college protects you as best it can.
All of us ask: What can we do? My own answer is that I am a patriotic American. My duty now is to do my duty, to do my work, to keep on – to do so calmly and with strength.
There are those who see to bring our country to a standstill, to virtually shut us down. We shall not let them do that at Mary Baldwin University. We shall keep on our weekly schedule, unless some future instructions from local or national authorities cause us to change.
My advice and request to all of you is to stay here at Mary Baldwin University, calmly. Don’t get in your car and leave. Highways may be clogged or closed. This is your home and where you need to be right now. Your families know where you are, when you are here.
Our counselors – the Sena Center, the Counseling Center, the RAs – all are on call tonight, if you need support.
When we opened the college this year, I asked you to be slow to blame. I ask that of you now. We do not know the perpetrators of these vile acts. There is much we do not yet know.
I also reminded you of the strong women at Mary Baldwin University who have preceded you. It is now your turn to be strong women. I know I can depend on you.”
Originally we had planned to send you, as our first Mary BaldwinSpan (Mary Baldwin University’s Parent Awareness Network) message of the year, a cheery bulletin full of college news and useful information. We will still send you to you in a few days; in the meantime, in light of yesterday’s calamitous events, we wanted to communicate with you directly about their impact at Mary Baldwin University.
With best wishes for you and your family,
Associate Vice President for College Relations