What They Are Saying
Why They have Joined the Presidents’ Alliance
President Christopher Eisgruber, Princeton University, New Jersey
Throughout its history, the United States has benefited from the abilities, creativity, and drive of immigrants from throughout the world. Immigration has helped to define our national identity and our constitutional principles, and it has enhanced the quality of students, faculty, and staff at our colleges and universities. For me, the value of immigration is also deeply personal. My mother came to this country as a refugee, and my father came first as a high school exchange student and then as a graduate student. I am grateful that the United States enabled my family to make its home here, and I am proud to join a coalition dedicated to expanding opportunity for new generations of people who want to contribute their talents and energy to our country and share in its promise of freedom.
Chancellor Timothy White, California State University, California
As an immigrant and first-generation college student, I fully understand the life-changing, transformative power that a college degree has on students, their families and our communities. The California State University and its 23 campuses are committed to providing life-changing opportunities to every student in California motivated to earn that achievement, regardless of birthplace or status. Joining the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration partners us with institutions and university leaders that share, embrace and promote the CSU’s principled values of excellence through inclusivity. Indeed, this alliance allows us to work collectively to weave the positive contributions of higher education throughout the complete fabric of our society, creating a stronger and more innovative, resilient and compassionate America.
President Eduardo Padron, Miami Dade College, Florida
It’s truly an honor to be part of the President’s Alliance on Higher Education, and to have the opportunity to work alongside fellow higher education leaders as we ensure the success and well-being of all students is at the forefront. Now, more than ever, we must all collaborate to improve access and affordability at our nation’s colleges and universities, so that anyone with the desire and commitment to succeed is able to do so. Our campuses should serve as springboards for the academic and professional success of all students, and should also be places that embrace the sharing of ideas and celebrate diversity. At Miami Dade College, our differences make us stronger, and we strive every day to open the door of opportunity through education to anyone willing to work hard for a better future. I believe that at the Alliance, we are uniquely positioned to address crucial issues that deeply impact our students, such as the debate over comprehensive immigration reform, tuition affordability, inclusion and so much more. I look forward to the challenge, and believe that our work can truly make a difference in the lives of our students.
President Kent Ingle, Southeastern University, Florida
I believe the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration can amplify our collective voice as we represent the needs and interests of the students in our educational institutions at the national level. At the university I serve, Southeastern University, we support students who have worked diligently to pursue their divine design through higher education. We understand that these students have endured many obstacles and challenges in their journey to receive an education. As a faith-based institution, we are committed to support every student, regardless of their immigration status or nation of origin, with a commitment to diversity, inclusion and nondiscrimination. It is our priority to provide students with the support they need to be successful in their God-given calling. The Presidents’ Alliance is crucial in providing our students the support they need through being a part of shaping this national conversation.
President Elizabeth Kiss, Agnes Scott College, Georgia
An open and welcoming America is a thriving America. The moral greatness, economic vitality and educational excellence of our country is at stake in today’s immigration debates. As the proud daughter of Hungarian refugees, I am forever grateful to the country which gave my family refuge from tyranny and opened doors of opportunity to me and my sisters. And as a college president committed to preparing all students for success in a dynamic global society, I see firsthand the invaluable contributions talented and hard-working immigrant, undocumented and international students bring to our campuses and the larger community. I am proud to join this alliance and work with colleagues across the country to increase public understanding of why it is so important to our shared future that America remain an open and welcoming society.
Presidents Call to Protect Dreamers
President Bart Patterson, Nevada State College, Nevada
Nevada State College is a diverse and inclusive campus committed to supporting all of our students, including many first generation and diverse students seeking to improve the lives of themselves and their families. This includes Dreamers in pursuit of their higher education degrees. In Nevada, over 12,000 young people have applied and been approved for DACA. These youth followed the rules, enrolled in the DACA program, and are now studying, working and contributing to the Nevada economy as part of a critical and growing workforce needed for our vibrant economy. Dreamers have found a home at Nevada State College and are thriving as exemplary academic examples and student life leaders. Many are pursuing careers as desperately needed teachers under the Nevada law that makes DACA students eligible to be licensed as educators. Others will become the nurses and business entrepreneurs that fuel our economy. As President of Nevada State College, I strongly endorse a permanent solution for these students whom are at a critical pathway in the lives of themselves, their families and our state. I know their future will have a positive impact on both our economy and our community.
President Jane K. Fernandes, Guilford College, North Carolina
Students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are an important part of Guilford College—an appreciated and respected part of our campus community. Having been brought by the United States as children with an average age of six-and-a-half years, DACA students had no choice but to move here with their parents. These students have grown up in this country and essentially know no other. The United States Congress now has the responsibility to render justice by ensuring a sound and compassionate policy providing DACA individuals with a path toward naturalized citizenship. Deporting them to their parents’ county of origin would be equivalent to and make as much sense as deporting me to Ireland, where my great-grandparents emigrated . . . Those of us born here may take for granted the opportunities we are afforded; DACA recipients do not. They are productive members of our college community and of American society in general. They are an essential part of “us,” and they give back in many ways to the community of which they are a part of...
President Jose Luis Cruz, Lehman College - CUNY, New York
President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA without having a permanent legislative solution in place for our Dreamers has galvanized institutions of higher education to collectively champion our nation’s undocumented students and advocate for immigration policies on the national, state and local levels that are humane, far-sighted and fair. Through the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, I look forward to working with my colleagues across the nation to develop and implement strategies that will result in immigration policies that support, rather than erode, opportunity in America.
President Lee Pelton, Emerson College, Massachusetts
Every young person born, raised and educated at secondary schools in the United States, documented or not, deserves to attend college if she or he wishes, so they might become contributing members of our wonderfully and increasingly diverse society. They are people that you and I know. They are our neighbors. They are our friends and our children’s friends. They are Americans. Emerson College is one of several Commonwealth institutions of higher learning to co-sign a high education amicus curiae brief on behalf of the DACA program recipients. The job of our colleges and universities is to prepare a new generation of civic-minded leaders to make of this old world a new world. They are leading the way towards a brighter future. We should be proud of them. And we should not shut the doors of opportunity before they have had a chance to walk through them. What a shame that would be. What a waste of precious talent it would be for our nation and for each of us in this room. We all lose.
Immigration is a Cornerstone of Higher Education and our Nation
President Leon Botstein, Bard College, New York
An America inhospitable to immigrants is unthinkable in the context of the nation’s history and founding principles. The key to the astonishing success of the American university has been its resilient commitment to freedom and nondiscrimination. It is essential, therefore, that college and university presidents defend the principles that have enabled institutions of higher education to flourish. These are freedom and tolerance, and openness to individuals no matter their national origin or religion. Bard College proudly enrolls DACA students in its national networks and welcomes immigrant and refugee students throughout its international network.
The College will continue to support Dreamers and others in our communities of learning who may not enjoy the protection of legal status but whose right to an education must be defended, and I look forward to working with the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration on behalf of Bard College.
Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University – Newark, New Jersey
Our country is built on the will of generations who dreamed of opportunity. Some came here fleeing trouble at home, others simply looking for a better life, but all putting down stakes, raising families, learning new languages, sharing cultures and faiths. Today, we question whether such dreamers are or ever have been “American.” Our exclusionary and insular immigration and refugee policies restrict not only the dreams and desires of individuals, but our ability to understand the world. We have a collective responsibility to build an inclusive America that draws upon the diverse skills, passions, values, insights, and perspectives of everyone, to grow prosperity for all. We can learn from Newark Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a refugee and Holocaust survivor, who implored when he spoke alongside his friend the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the 1963 March on Washington: “Neighbor is not a geographic concept, it is a moral concept.
President Elizabeth L. Hillman, Mills College, California
Mills College has a long history in California, a state that has led the way in education and elsewhere because of its diversity. Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills is an independent college for women and gender non-binary students, with graduate programs for all genders. Our commitment to gender and racial justice is reflected in our students, who are among the most diverse of any liberal arts college in the nation. An immigration policy that advances global understanding and promotes access and equity is essential to our mission and to our students, and we welcome the opportunity to work collectively, with different types of higher education institutions, toward this goal. The Alliance can build partnerships that both accelerate our understanding of immigration policy over the long term and seek an immediate legislative solution for the Dreamers, whose fearlessness has inspired all of us.