Dean's Message on Immigration Executive Order

January 31, 2017

Dear Columbian College Students, Faculty and Staff,

Every day I am reminded of the richness of our diverse and global community of students, scholars and visitors to our campus. Just this morning, I was graced with an impromptu performance by young people from the Bokamoso Youth Centre in South Africa. They are here this week working with our theatre and dance students to create musical drama that addresses the challenges of their community in Winterveldt, South Africa, which is plagued by extreme poverty and lack of educational opportunities. The soaring voices of these youth brought a powerful message: obstacles can be overcome through hope, resiliency and grit.

I echo President Knapp’s statement calling the executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the United States a threat to the well-being of our campus community and, I believe, the very underpinnings of what we represent as an academic institution. Global learning is a pillar of our strategic plan because we recognize that globalization has become a key factor in driving economic and social transformation as ideas, people and resources circulate more extensively than ever before. The educator in me looks at what we do as a means to help us learn more about what we have in common than what divides us. Based on my own experience of living and learning abroad, cross-cultural understanding cannot be over-emphasized for its impact in enhancing communication and understanding beyond borders and boundaries.

Please know that the concerns of our community in the wake of the executive order are being heard, and we are committed to protecting our students, faculty and staff. Protocols are being put into place as we sift through this evolving situation. For those of you who are directly affected and/or could be affected by the impact of this and future decisions relating to travel, I urge you to direct your questions to GW’s International Services Office. I also encourage you to contact your academic advisor (undergraduate students) or program director (graduate students) as necessary.


Ben Vinson, III
Dean, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
George Washington University