This time of year almost seems to require reflection. Finals week asks our students and faculty to take stock of course content, experiences, and moments from throughout our fall semester. All of us—faculty, staff, and students—get ready to turn the page on our calendar year and enjoy one of our IC traditions as the tower lights change from '18' to '19.' In the stillness of winter and our time away from campus, we have an opportunity to turn our attention inward: to the people and places that we hold close to our hearts. To our goals and objectives for the coming year. To thoughts about what we learned, and what is yet to be discovered about ourselves and the world around us.
As I approach the midway point in my sophomore year as president at Ithaca College, I continue to maintain my sense of awe about Ithaca College—about our spectacular community, about this amazing space and our great town. My second year here still feels very new to me as I find myself connecting with students who are just beginning their IC experience, who are exploring their potential as learners, finding their people, and thinking about ways to cultivate their strengths and to honestly assess their challenges. This is one of the greatest things about working in higher education: that you open yourself, every year, to the ebb and flow of what it means to be a part of a learning community and embrace how it can refresh you intellectually and personally.
Our first year together offered many significant accomplishments and changes to the way we think about our college and our community. This fall semester has been no different. We’ve kicked off an incredibly important strategic planning process, and look ahead to the deep, intentional work we will do next semester on this plan as we visualize the college’s future. We’ve connected with our communities outside of campus with our inaugural Ithaca College Honors event, which spotlighted the wonderful work our on- and off-campus community does (and continues to do) around food insecurity, and our IC Conversations on the Road, which invited our alumni and parent communities to participate in a discussion around student life. We’ve celebrated our academic enterprise though student-faculty research and opportunities like our newly established Provost’s Post-Sabbatical Colloquium, which, to date, has invited 20 of our faculty members to discuss their research. And we’ve honored our IC community in so many ways—from International Pronouns Day, to our Veteran’s Day service on campus, to our student-centered Convocation which brought an incredible amount of faculty, staff, and returning students together for a huge welcome ceremony and community picnic.
I was reminded of these things last Saturday, when I had the great privilege of celebrating our December graduates at a reception with the students and their families in Emerson Suites. This past semester was the last for these students, and I thought about what it must be like to not only end your college experience after a time of such energy and movement, but to do so at the close of the calendar year.
My time with these new graduates and their loved ones was moving and joyful, and I encourage all of us to carry that same spirit of hope and renewal with us now, as we say goodbye to 2018 and press pause for a few weeks on our academic year. Let’s take this time reflect not only on our endings, but on the wondrous beginnings and magnificent discoveries that await us next year and in the years to come.