For UMW, November is always a month of transition. It’s marked by the transformation of our beautiful campus from lush green to amazing fall colors, and by our thoughts turning to upcoming holidays and the on-rushing semester’s end. From my perspective, we are on track, and we have had a very productive first few months of this academic year.
Our Homecoming week was a success and a source of renewal of Eagle pride. However, it was not without controversy. The university received complaints from local residents about our outdoor concert and some of the language used by the performer. I wrote a letter to the residents apologizing for inconveniencing them. A Bullet staff editorial followed disagreeing with my action and stating that we shouldn’t have to “appease a picky local community.” I hope you will examine that statement carefully.
One of the things that we all share—president, student, faculty and staff alike—is a responsibility to live in harmony with our neighbors. This is no different than where you grew up, or where you will make your future home. Respecting neighbors and expecting them to extend the same courtesy to you creates better relationships and hence a better quality of life for all parties.
Throughout the course of our liberal arts curriculum, UMW tries to instill in all students respect for others and civic responsibility. I make the case that civic responsibility includes a shared obligation to learn to live in close community with our neighbors and to treat one another with mutual dignity and respect. Having been named to the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service 2010 Honor Roll, UMW has a solid reputation in that regard—a distinction that we should all strive to maintain through continued close cooperation with our neighbors.
In the next few weeks we have the opportunity to make a difference in our own personal outcomes for 2010. I encourage you to join me in making the most of what Mary Washington has to offer in the classroom, in our clubs and sports, at our events and in the community.
You also have the opportunity to make a contribution to the plans for our campus in the years to come. We are soliciting comments on the UMW Master Plan and have provided a mechanism that allows you to provide direct feedback on the plan developed by the architectural firm of Burt, Hill. Click on the scrolling “review-feedback” box on the UMW website homepage to submit your opinion.
Finally, I have proposed some changes to the “Statement on Diversity and Inclusion” for the university and invite you to review those changes and provide input. Click on the UMW Community Values “Join the conversation” link on the homepage.
Throughout this semester I have enjoyed engaging in conversations with you about university issues and our future—at Brompton, in Seacobeck and along Campus Walk. I sense a vibrant spirit is shared among our campus community, and this sense of belonging will contribute to our goal of becoming the best public liberal arts university in the nation.
Now, we face the challenge of figuring out how to get everything done that we want to do—in addition to the things that we must do—by the end of the semester. The resulting conflict between available time and the press of our commitments can lead to undue stress. I bring this up because it’s important that we recognize stress not only in ourselves, but in our classmates, our colleagues or our co-workers. The point I want to make is that as a community at Mary Washington, we have to be committed to taking care of one another.
If you believe someone appears to be overly depressed, is acting out, or is making a statement that causes you concern, please let someone know. We have avenues of support, such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Also, any faculty member, resident advisor or Student Affairs staff member will listen to your concerns with care and confidentiality and involve other professionals as necessary. It is important that we don’t just ignore a situation and hope it will go away.
Be safe. I want to see everyone back for the spring semester.
Photo: Anne Elder/Bullet