Stresses, Celebrations and Moving Forward, December 11, 2014
Dear Students and Campus Colleagues,
Unfortunately, like many of you, I’m spending the week before finals and commencement a bit under the weather while simultaneously trying to keep up with the pressures that accompany the end of an academic term. It’s a good reminder for me of the stress so many of our students feel at this time of year, in this last push of the semester before the holiday break. So if nothing else, I want to offer a wish that all of us try to get a little more sleep, take a little bit of time to get out in the sun while it’s warm, and help each other stay healthy and strong between now and next week’s graduation.
Despite all the stress that just naturally comes at this time of year, we have a lot to celebrate as a campus community this week. Our faculty and students continue to earn more honors than I can adequately recount here — most recently including Dr. Ian Orme’s selection as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Dr. Manfred Diehl’s receipt of the Humboldt Research Award from Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Our amazing volleyball team and Coach Tom Hilbert are headed to the NCAA Sweet 16 in Minneapolis — appearing in the tournament for the 20th-straight season. Next week, our football team, led by Interim Head Coach Dave Baldwin, will facing off against Utah in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. Our men’s basketball team just beat CU in Boulder. And the greatest reason for celebration at any university will happen next weekend, when the Class of Fall 2014 walks across the graduation stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas. CSU is wrapping up the semester in a good place, thanks to all of you.
Finally, I want to offer a few thoughts on an issue that has been on most of our minds these past two weeks: the recent grand jury decisions nationally involving Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Like people across the country, there are many in our community who are wrestling with anger, disappointment, fear, resentment, and sadness at these recent events. As members of a University community, we are fortunate to have a safe environment in which to discuss such issues and to express our thoughts and opinions, as some of our students did last week leading a series of peaceful protests on campus. As educated men and women, we have a responsibility to help foster discussion and lead change when we believe it’s important and necessary to a just and civil society.
Classes will resume on our campus in January just after the birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King. Jr., and as we prepare for our Black History Month celebrations — both occasions each year when we stand up and recognize the leadership and contributions of Black Americans, and both occasions when we take time to acknowledge how far, as a people, we have to go in the ongoing march toward a world in which all of us can feel safe, in which all of us have the opportunity to live lives of dignity, and in which none of us need to fear for the lives of our children. Vice President for Diversity Mary Ontiveros and Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes will be helping to organize a series of discussions at the beginning of next semester for those who want to talk about and explore these issues as a community. We also want to encourage all of us to take advantage of the support and opportunities for dialogue that are available through our campus cultural and resource centers, the Ethnic Studies Department, the counseling program of the CSU Health Network, our Employee Assistance Program, and through various faith groups. There is strength and comfort to be found in caring for one another, in speaking openly with one another, and sharing fears, concerns, and words of hope.
This is an important time in the history of our country, and an important time for all of us in higher education to engage thoughtfully in the issues and challenges before us.
As always, I am privileged to be a member of this community — congratulations to our Fall 2014 graduates, good luck to our students and faculty on finals, and best wishes to all of you on a restful, restorative winter break.
Dr. Tony Frank