Spring Hill College President Responds to Email Controversy

The president of Spring Hill College is responding to criticism over an e-mail sent out to students and alumni.

The message went out Thursday morning in the wake of the presidential election. In the email school President Dr. Christopher Puto called the aftermath of the election, an event unlike any other in recent memory and that many are in profound shock in the aftermath.

On social media there was criticism that the letter was a slight to Donald Trump being elected and that it invoked memories of 9-11 and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Dr. Puto says he was not drawing any parallels, in fact quite the opposite.

“I would encourage anyone to really read the document and read exactly what it said in that ‘we were not attacked and we were not inundated with a cataclysmic disaster’ there was just an unexpected emotional shock,” said Dr. Puto.

He said he sent the letter initially to calm students concerns over the divisive election and says he likely would have sent out an email regardless of who ended up winning.

“Arguably not all, but at least half of the students, if they follow the population, were concerned about the outcome of the election,” said Dr. Puto. “And I wanted to put them at ease.”

Below is the full text of the Email sent from Dr. Puto:

Dear Members of the Spring Hill College Community:

Our nation’s founding fathers risked everything they had, including their very lives, to forge a truly unique nation dedicated to freedom and democracy. Since our country’s founding, over one million Americans have sacrificed their lives to protect the values expressed in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

Our country has just experienced an event unlike any in the memories of most living Americans. We were not attacked as at Pearl Harbor in 1941 or at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or the quiet field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania. We did not have a cataclysmal natural disaster. But many in our country are feeling a profound shock in the aftermath of yesterday’s presidential election results. Our nation experienced a bitter and arguably the most divisive campaign in recent memories. No matter the results, a significant portion of our nation was destined to be left feeling abandoned.

For 240 years, the United States of America has peacefully experienced the transfer of leadership and power every four or eight years. As we undergo this transfer, I encourage everyone in our campus community to attend to the post-election words of both candidates. Each, in similar comments, affirmed the need for reconciliation, hope and respect for all Americans. Each confirmed their deep belief in America and its ideals.

As a Jesuit academic institution dedicated to excellence, we are committed to justice and understand the value of diversity, which fosters richer solutions to the world’s issues. I urge each of us at Spring Hill to count our blessings every day and respect the differences among us that can ultimately make us strong. We must be hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted as we all work together to move our wonderful nation ever forward, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

To that end, the faculty and staff group who created and brought us the two pre-election discussion events on “Whose lives matter?” and “Who is my neighbor?” are preparing additional post-election discussion sessions during the spring semester to help us understand our roles in healing the differences that have been all too evident in our country. Watch for the announcements, and please join us as we continue the work that makes Spring Hill such a wonderful placed to grow and learn.

Christopher P. Puto, PhD ’64

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