June 23, 2016

To Our Students and Members of Our College Community:

A tragic hallmark of our times is increasingly senseless acts of mass violence resulting in terrible loss and bloodshed, pointlessly ending the lives of loved ones and members of our communities, leaving agonizing scars on the lives of the living.

Our reaction to these monstrous events is pain and sorrow, anger and disbelief as the fabric of society is forcefully ripped from the structure that supports it.

Two weeks ago we awoke, yet again, to such a pathological event, as members of the LGBT community in Orlando were slaughtered. The impact of the Pulse Club tragedy is so indelible that it shakes the very premise by which we, as a college community, sustain the belief in the progress and betterment of ourselves and our communities.

This letter is written to each of you, and most particularly to our students. It is a plea that you not give up your quest in the face of evil and continue to strive to better your own life and the lives of others.

On our campus, we treasure our differences. We bring together as many and varied people and personalities as we can to live, learn, argue and laugh. We work and play together, succeed and make mistakes.  When Mount Ida students go into the world, they respect and celebrate our differences and recognize that the multiplicity of our differences leads to the success that we achieve in our own lives, in our communities and in our nation.

We know that respect and recognition of the wonderfully varied nature of our community at Mount Ida works – not perfectly, not without occasional frustration – but, by and large, it works. Our community is at once compassionate, supportive, questioning, argumentative, funny and so caring that when the world outside is not the same, it may momentarily diminish our hope for the future.

I ask, now, that you not give in to that feeling of powerlessness. Each generation, it seems, needs to confront its share of evil. Yours is no less confronted than the  generation that preceded you in war, social unrest, discrimination, human suffering and economic chaos.

The horrible act of June 12 against the LGBT community, against people of color, against diversity and inclusion, against the best qualities and principles of our nation are so disheartening that, following upon Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook, Aurora and other monstrous events of mass murder, it is understandable to feel that we have failed, our world is lost to blood, guns, violence and irrationality.

Please do not give in to those feelings and fears. Rely on what you learn here, your courage, your principles, the celebration of our differences. We who are your teachers, whether we are in the classrooms, the residence halls or on our playing fields know that you are kind, caring compassionate and principled and that you will end the scourge of guns, and the plague of hatred against those whose differences should be celebrated. Recognize that the strength of this great society is best served when we as a nation embrace all, not the few.

You do that so well at this small wonderful College, I ask each of you not to lose hope, but to instead take what we learn here and what we do here out into the world. You are young and much more powerful than you yet imagine. Please do not accept things as they are, but make them as you want them to be.

All of us who teach you, who support you at Mount Ida believe deeply in this cause and in each of you.



Barry Brown


The National Center for Death Education at Mount Ida College is pleased to invite you to register for our annual  Summer Institute on Grief and Loss from Monday, July 18 – Friday, July 22. The five-day Institute features leading experts in thanatology, professional networking and more. To register, visit mountida.edu/ncde.

The Summer Institute on Grief and Loss is designed for professionals in a variety of settings who work with people who have experienced loss and grief. Participants gain an understanding of current issues in the field of loss and grief counseling and become better able to make assessments and informed referrals. The program includes a series of five workshops on a variety of timely topics including:

  • Our Work, Ourselves: A Workshop for Caregivers
  • Creative Arts Therapies for Grieving Children
  • Beyond Stages: Understanding the Personal Pathways of Grief
  • Dismantling Privilege, Power, and the Stigma Threat in Grief and Loss for Marginalized Populations
  • Responding to a Crisis in a Community

For complete workshop descriptions, and to learn more about registration, please visit our Institute webpage.


When word of the passing of “The Greatest” – Muhammad Ali –  spread across the Mount Ida College campus, it was met with the emotions you would expect when a family loses one of its own.

Muhammad Ali was a member of our community.  He received an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1994, and lent his support to a study group created in his honor. He also served as a founder and member on a selection committee of the annual Muhammad Ali Award to a graduating student who each year demonstrated a keen understanding and promotion of social justice.

When he stepped to the podium to receive his first-ever honorary degree, Ali declared, in a moment at the intersection of bravado and humility, “I’ve been called the king. I’ve been called the greatest. I’ve been called champ, and now I can be called the doc.”

In presenting him with his Mount Ida hood, Jacqueline Palmer, Professor of Sport Management at Mount Ida still remembers the moment vividly. “It was extraordinary to realize the importance to one of the most revered figures in sport and beyond, to be given an honorary doctorate and title of “Dr. Muhammad Ali.”  It was a significant accomplishment added to the life of one of the greatest!  She remembers “His hands were so big, his body 6’3” and he was moving on the stage.  I just wanted to make sure I got that hood over his head just at the right time. What a moment in time for all in attendance during commencement.”

The relationship with Ali continued beyond the awarding of his doctorate.   In 1996, Mount Ida College established a unique study group, named in his honor.  The group was devoted to helping students succeed with the aid of study skills, emotional support, guidance and encouragement.  In a letter to the College he said “It would be an honor for me to continue to have your study group bear my name.  Although I did not go to college, I have never underestimated the value of a solid education.”

Ali went on to say “In today’s society we often think of education and the ability to receive one as nothing special – oh but it is!!  There is not a day that goes by that I do not wish that I had paid more attention in school and done well as a student…..education should never be taken for granted.”

Ali returned to Mount Ida over the years and his daughter, Hana, attended the College in the 90s.  He was on hand to autograph a copy of a book written about him, which resides in the campus library.  At each campus visit, he took the time to meet with students, listen and to offer a hug or word of encouragement.

Greg Muldrow, who received the Muhammad Ali Award when he earned his degree in sport management in 2009 says, “I looked up to Ali because he was so courageous and inspiring at a time when there were so many barriers. He was compassionate and stood up for what he believed in, what he thought was right. He never let anyone change the person he was meant to be. The Greatest! It was an honor for me to have been associated with him through this award.”  Greg now works in the finance division for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and trains and competes in Muay Thai kickboxing.

The most recent recipient, Molly Christian, a forensic science and psychology major who graduated in May and who served as social justice coordinator on campus, says she was flattered and honored to have received the award.  “It is in my nature to challenge views and ideas.  I grew up in a low-income household, faced many obstacles, am a gay woman and I’ve learned to push through no matter what.”  Although, she says she didn’t know a lot about Ali before learning of the award, she sees many parallels.

Ali, always an advocate for education especially that of students who are the first in their families to attend college, has left a legacy well beyond what many people know of his very public life.

And as award recipient Christian heads off to work for AmeriCorps, with plans to attend graduate school and then work on a college or university campus in social justice, her philosophy to ‘push forward and not give in,’ would make Ali proud.