MLK, the Spring Semester, and You

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I send this to you early on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day as I prepare to head over to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center to deliver a keynote address for the city’s celebration event. I am deeply honored and humbled by Mayor Woodards’ invitation to participate in this way. I am also reading through my prepared remarks for the dozenth time—propelled not by stage fright but by cognizance of the deep meaning associated with this day, and intent on doing my best to meet the demands of the occasion.

Since becoming president of the university, it has been my tradition to write to you on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day that coincides with the eve of our spring semester. It seems fitting that a day on which we are reminded of our call to service aligns so well with our academic calendar and our mission as a community of learning.

I hope to see many of you at the convention center later this morning, especially as my duties as president will call me away from campus during our own MLK celebration on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m., in Upper Marshall Hall. Working with Director of Intercultural Engagement Vivie Nguyen and colleagues in the offices of Communications and Technology Services, I will be making a virtual appearance and join you in spirit at the event, but I will be sorry to miss it in person. I strongly encourage you to attend if you are able, as this is a wonderful opportunity to honor the work of our campus community, celebrate the recipient of our annual “Keep Living the Dream” award, further our collective pursuit of social justice, and be inspired by outstanding performances and remarks from members of our community as well as this year’s keynote speaker, Mumu Fresh.

Representing the good people and good work of Puget Sound is a great privilege, whether engaging with our partners here in the South Sound; meeting with alumni, parents, and friends in cities through the U.S.; or pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill. I hear from some of you (including my own spouse) that you would like to see more of me; please know that I feel the same way! But I know that this university does not revolve around “me” but “we.” Our great university is blessed with strong and capable leaders throughout our talented and committed student body, faculty, and staff—as well as our alumni, volunteers, and trustees who give so freely and generously of their time and resources to ensure that we continue to be a bright light for all who live, work, and learn here.

I am so inspired by the many ways in which members of our community work to collaborate, inspire, engage with, and support one another. I see how busy everyone is in service to our students—the early mornings, the late nights, the extra projects, and full plates. We are a mission-driven institution. We believe in our vision to challenge and support our students such that they become broadly and deeply educated lifelong learners, prepared to create and serve the future and to become the world’s next generation of visionary leaders. Every single person in every single role on this campus plays an essential part in bringing that vision to fruition.

As we embark on another new semester together, I am excited about our work to advance Leadership for a Changing World, the strategic plan that will help us achieve our goals for the future, and inspired by the progress that is being made across all five of those key goals. In the coming weeks and months, you will hear more about our work to advance student success; increase diversity, inclusion and access; support and inspire our faculty and staff; enhance engagement with the community and promote environmental justice and sustainability; and fully leverage our many assets as a leading national liberal arts college.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

Please know how grateful I am for your vigorous and positive action, and your service to the advancement of knowledge, to this great college, and to each other.

With appreciation,

Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President

P.S. If you really do wish to hear more from me, you can find copies of my messages to the campus community at I will see to it that the remarks I deliver at the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration are posted there following the event.