On the Passing of Nelson Mandela

Walter E. Massey | December 6, 2013

Dear Community,

Today we join the rest of the world in mourning the loss of one of its truly great leaders. Nelson Mandela was a voice of freedom, equality, and justice, and in his life and legacy there are many lessons for a community of artists and designers such as ours to take away.

His devotion to the values of a free and democratic society, "in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," made President Mandela a firm believer in the freedom of expression and the beauty of human diversity. He gave the utmost respect to what was new and different and through his vision helped empower millions to have their voices heard for the first time ever. As a school of art and design, we live and breathe these same values in our studios and classrooms. Everything we paint, draw, sculpt, film, and photograph owes something to a common belief in our fundamental right to share our unique perspectives with the world. It is important that we remember that, and that we reflect on the lives of those who have made it possible.

We are artists and designers, but we are also students and teachers—and human beings—and in closing I want to leave you with one final piece of wisdom from President Mandela: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." As this first semester draws to a close, I hope we can all keep that in mind.

Best regards,