Welcome to the 2018 academic year!
While there are joys in every season, this one might be my favorite because, at least in academia, it signals a type of renewal. To the students and faculty returning to campus after what I hope was a pleasant and productive summer, welcome back! And to those just beginning your DU journey, hello and welcome. We are so happy you’re here.
Over the summer, I set aside time to revisit the work of thinkers whose wisdom has provided me with guidance over the course of my life and career. One such guide is Paul Tillich, a 20th-century philosopher and theologian. Tillich says, “Man is asked to make of himself what he is supposed to be to fulfill his destiny.” Despite the exclusive pronouns—a vestige of the 20th century—I find Tillich’s assertion both sound and energizing: destiny as a result of effort and intentional progress.
I believe the DU community is making itself into what it is supposed to be to fulfill our destiny. We are forward-looking and unafraid to change for the payoff of progress. These past few years have been characterized by many transformations here on campus and in higher education generally. This can be challenging—a word, I realize, defined in large part by the disposition of the reader. However, I ask that we approach our challenges with respect and civility to one another, and that we treat them as harbingers of progress and thus, as reasons to celebrate.
At this moment in our history, the University of Denver has much to celebrate. As announced last spring, we’re realizing the vision of the Denver Advantage Campus Framework Plan. The three buildings breaking ground in the coming months are designed for our future: a new Community Commons, a first-year residence hall and a Pioneer Career Achievement Center. In these new spaces, we will organically convene and collaborate. The rigid silos we all recognize and struggle to overcome will become more porous. Students will quickly find their sense of belonging in this community and discover their path and purpose once they graduate. Of course, construction is unsightly at best, inconvenient at worst. In the face of it, let’s champion positivity and enthusiasm.
We also begin this year with our new Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jeremy Haefner who has demonstrated an astounding “DU aptitude.” I’m personally impressed with his vision and leadership, and we share a lifelong love of fitness and wellness—passions I know many of you value. And our new Executive Vice Chancellor of Athletics and Recreation Karlton Creech is also settling into his role. Please, say hello if you see him at games or in the Ritchie Center. (Go Pios!)
As Pablo Neruda once said, “There is no such thing as a lone struggle, no such thing as a lone hope.” Together, the University of Denver is a community, and together we face our challenges, celebrate our accomplishments and thus make ourselves—as individuals and as a collective—into our destiny.
Welcome, all, to the 2018-19 academic year. We have so many great things ahead.