As you may be aware, the Lafayette Public Library’s governing board recently refused to accept a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities that would have funded a community book reading and discussion about the history of voting rights in the United States.
In rejecting the grant, a board member questioned the objectivity of a member of our faculty, Dr. Theodore Foster, an assistant professor of history who was to act as one of two facilitators for the book discussion.
Dr. Foster is a dynamic and thoughtful scholar of Black life, culture and politics in our nation. That he is qualified to facilitate this discussion and provide context to it is without question. The University, its students and our wider community are fortunate to have him here.
The University encourages faculty members to lend their knowledge to community dialogue. Like his colleagues, Dr. Foster maintains a high standard of professionalism and balance in his teaching and public intellectual contributions based on his scholarly expertise.
You’ll soon have the opportunity to hear that expertise for yourself. The University’s Edith Garland Dupré Library applied for and secured the LEH grant that the public library declined. In the coming days, we’ll announce how you can participate in this timely and important community discussion.
In the past year, researchers and scholars from our University mobilized to answer the challenges brought by COVID-19. They offered understanding and clarity as the nation grappled with issues of social justice and racism. And they provided perspective and calm before and after the presidential election.
The University inspires progress, both locally and globally, through the ideas and passions of its faculty and staff members, students and graduates.
Our researchers embody this principle of community service and give our academic mission its heartbeat. Their engagement over the past year, and in every year, is not defined by political motives. Rather, it is driven by an intense desire to do what scholars do – remedy confusion with clarity, counter intransigence with intellect, and offer fact in response to fiction.
That’s a scholar’s job. It’s a higher calling, one that Dr. Foster and faculty across campus answer every day – and I am proud of them for it.