Dear faculty, staff, and students,
Whew…like most of you at this time of year, I am taking a deep breath so that I can suck in as much oxygen as possible to get me through the next and final leg of the semester’s race. And what a race this last couple of weeks has been!
As is typical for this time of year, I have been spending many of my nights and weekends at year-end ceremonies, celebrations and send-offs. Last week, Eric and I were fortunate to host one of those celebrations at Harbert House where ten students joined Eric, Liz Okuma and me for a dinner they won on as part of the Habitat for Humanity auction. It was a real pleasure to have the Harbert House filled with students and to hear stories that Presidents and VPs elsewhere would never hear. I so enjoyed the food (prepared by Eric), the conversation and the laughter, that I think we should make this dinner an annual event.
Just this week I happily accepted Dee West’s invitation to join the send-off dinner for senior members of African American Students United and Nicole Gatrell’s invitation to offer opening remarks at the international students’ graduation reception. Both events provided me the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with students I had met throughout the year and to wish them well as they embark on the next exciting phase of their journey. In both cases, the event organizers put together beautiful programs that honored the accomplishments of dozens of our soon-to-be graduates. I am thankful to be included in these events and look forward to even more receptions in the weeks to come.
Speaking of being thankful at events, I continue to be touched and humbled by the efforts that countless numbers of you put forward over the last few weeks to make my Inauguration so very special. I am still basking in the joy of it all: seeing so many of our faculty participate in this important academic tradition, welcoming the almost fifty delegates who represented colleges and universities near and far and breaking bread with so many members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors who spent the day with us on Friday.
For those of you unable to attend, the speech I delivered at the Inaugural ceremony has been posted on our website (read it here). Some wonderful photos of the ceremony and other events that day have been posted as well (view them here).
Finally, words cannot express how happy I was to have Eric and so many of my friends and family members with me this weekend. If you saw me fiddling with my hands during part of the ceremony and was wondering what I was doing up there, I was sending “heart signs” back to my nieces and nephews who were making the love-you gesture to me while I was on stage. Even amidst the pomp and circumstance, who could resist responding to that?