Spring, long awaited and oft delayed, has at last visited St. Mary’s! As temperatures finally rise, blooms burst forth, ospreys and other migratory birds return from their winter havens, we can consider the return of Spring as symbolic of rebirth–the opportunity to begin a new cycle of growth. Of course, on a college campus, the full arrival of Spring also signals the end of classes for the semester, and for our graduating seniors, the imminent separation from a college experience they have come to cherish.
Considering all that we have experienced in this year of rapid change and multiple transitions, I feel it is apt for us to characterize this time as one of farewells and welcome. We entered this past year full of questions about the future but full of determination to set things right; we were greeted by uncertainty, but we bid farewell to doubt.
We welcomed a new class, full of energy and promise, and marveled at how quickly they have made their mark on this campus; in a few weeks, we will say “so long” to a class that has persisted through hurricanes, an earthquake and other upheavals to make their own indelible impressions on St. Mary’s. We have, with mixed emotions, wished Godspeed and the best of luck for iconic campus figures who have moved on to other opportunities or to a well-deserved rest from their labors, even as we look forward to new leadership and blossoming opportunities to grow and develop.
Whilst we have navigated this turbulent year, we have connected to lodestones of stability that provide guidance and hope for the future. We have, as a community, made difficult choices together and have emerged leaner, but stronger. We have renewed our commitment to what is distinctive about St. Mary’s and that commitment has gained us allies across the State–and a new President fully conversant with and invested in the tenets of the St. Mary’s Way. What I have found most remarkable over this past year has been the unquenchable spirit of Seahawk Nation; the camaraderie, the compassion, and the determined optimism behind the simple slogan “We Are St. Mary’s” has been a continuing inspiration to me and my colleagues.
This Spring will mark a time of transition for me as well, as I leave the position of Dean of Students and my tenure at St. Mary’s College comes to an end. It has been my honor to work with dedicated, talented, and clever people in Student Affairs over the past two years who make facilitating a transformative student experience their highest priority. It’s been my good fortune in the preceding four years to explore the sometimes arcane concepts of economics with students who were willing, from time to time, to venture from well-worn paths of theory to discover fresh insights (and to share them with me) and to form bonds with faculty colleagues. Above all, it has been my privilege to get to know some of the most intelligent, interesting and inspiring young people I have encountered in over thirty years in higher education. I have been enriched by a treasure hoard of memories and friendships that have and will continue to nourish me.
As the early blossoms of Spring give way to the more substantive foliage of mid-May, I will be proud to greet the newly minted graduates of the Class of 2014, one by one, as I usher them onto the platform to receive their diplomas and the cheers of their friends and loved ones.
And then I will say Goodbye.