Fashioned by the One Creator

Fashioned by the One Creator

Statements on Racial, Ethnic,
and Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion

Among our community members, we come from countless walks of life, from locations all over the country and the world. We are a community shaped by many cultures, experiences, and hopes. And yet, by Divine Providence, we believe we’ve all been gathered here together.

Providence College: Our Catholic and Dominican Mission, p. 61

Providence College is unwavering in its commitment to be an inclusive and diverse community. Such a commitment is grounded in our Catholic and Dominican mission, by our sense that God has called us here and is guiding our journey toward truth. This vision goes back to our founding. In 1917, the College intentionally welcomed men of “every faith or none.” When prejudicial quotas at rival institutions limited educational opportunities for Jews, Providence College opened its doors, and by 1931, 16% of the Freshman class was Jewish. We continue to value and cherish the relations we enjoy with the Jewish members of our community. Many years later, in an address to the Faculty Senate in 1998, the College’s late president, Fr. Philip Smith, proclaimed, “Fashioned by the one Creator, all are brothers and sisters in a single human family with a divine mandate to be one another’s keepers.” Such are our foundations, and I wish to affirm, and indeed to strengthen this vision—a vision intrinsically linked to who we have been, who we are, and whom we hope to become as a Catholic and Dominican institution of higher education in our 21st century world.

Under the leadership of President Father Brian Shanley (2005-2020), the College explicitly reaffirmed its commitment to diversity and inclusion, including the hiring of the College’s first chief diversity officer and the opening of the Center at Moore Hall as a center devoted to the College’s DEI efforts in November 2017.  Our goals were articulated in two of the College’s strategic plans.  We intentionally focused on increasing the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students, while providing an environment and culture that is loving, welcoming, and respectful toward each person.

Progress toward becoming a more inclusive community was made during those years.  At the same time, however, there was frequent turmoil in our society and on our campus related to issues concerning race.  At PC, this was reflected in Climate Surveys and other expressions of unrest, including student protests and demands for redress (2015 and 2020).  

While many members of our community flourish and feel supported by the College, some persons of color share that they sometimes have been made to feel unwelcome and, in some ways, inferior and invisible as a result of the words, actions, and indifference of others. They have not always been shown the love, dignity, and self-worth to which all are entitled. A broad body of research shows the damaging consequences that experiences of hurt, bias, and injustice can have for the physical and mental health of vulnerable and oppressed people. 

In her keynote remarks at the 2018 inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation, Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke movingly of her father’s vision of a “beloved community.”  It was a moment of inspiration and vision for Providence College.  Soon after, the College adopted this language to describe the community we aspire to become.

During my years as executive vice president, and even more so since becoming president in 2020, I have spoken with many in our campus community on issues related to diversity and inclusion.  I have sought counsel from trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and Dominican Friars, and I have established presidential advisory and Board committees to explore how best to address these sensitive issues.  I have heard repeatedly a call for institutional clarity on the College’s vision of and approach to diversity and inclusion. Many have expressed a desire for the College to define what is meant by the beloved community at Providence College, and to provide a statement that clearly expresses the College’s vision of inclusion. 

I wish to reaffirm my commitment to making Providence College a more just and loving community.  Doing so will require addressing the causes for the hurt, bias, and injustice which some members of our community have experienced.  We do this because the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church demand this of us.  Our Catholic and Dominican identity drives our commitment to becoming a just, inclusive, and diverse community, and as such, we eschew both a merely secular notion of diversity or any profession of faith that does not embrace every human being as a child of God, made in His image and likeness, and equal in dignity.

Included in this package are two statements that I hope will provide a degree of the clarity that many seek:

  1. In the Spirit of Solidarity: Embracing Racial, Ethnic, and Socio-Economic Diversity at Providence College A synopsis of foundational principles from the Catholic and Dominican tradition that will drive our embrace of diversity and our pursuit of the beloved community, and
  2. On the Beloved Community: An introduction to what we mean by the phrase “beloved community” at Providence College. It begins with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s theological vision of the beloved community and builds upon it with the Catholic theological tradition and vision of higher education.

While I believe that these statements are important in providing a foundation upon which we can build, I know that this is but another step on our journey. Next, we will devise a process for creating an accompanying action plan to guide us in operationalizing these concepts. I have tasked the Offices of Mission & Ministry and Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to lead a collaboration on this action plan. 

I share this work with a sense of humility and with a sense of gratitude to the members of the Friar Family who have provided advice. I pray that these statements will be helpful in our College’s journey toward becoming a beloved community.


Kenneth R. Sicard, O.P.
College President