In an ordinary spring, we close the academic year with congratulations and celebration for our graduates and gratitude to our excellent faculty and staff.
I will not break from tradition. However, I must state the obvious: this has been no ordinary spring. One could argue there has not been an academic year like this since our Old Main burned down in 1916, forcing college classes into churches scattered throughout Oshkosh. Students only missed one day of school. The young institution adapted to the building’s loss and continued students’ education.
College carried on then as it does at UWO today: with resilience and optimism for the future.
This pandemic has been cruel to learning and lives, hard for everyone, heartbreaking to many. I think of the many dedicated UWO staff members experiencing continuous furloughs right now, sacrificing their work so we all persevere, reaching tomorrow’s Commencement and those to come.
What have we learned from these trying last few months?
Compassion and creativity triumph over uncertainty and fear.
We prize being together. Yet, whether close or distant, it’s togetherness that truly gets us here.
Uncomfortable detours can reveal profound lessons. We will continue to experience them, and we will continue to grow from them.
To students: Thank you for overcoming a disruption unique in all of UWO history. Keep on the path to your degrees. Ask for help. We are here for you.
To valiant faculty and staff members: Deep gratitude for improvising, teaching, serving and sacrificing while safeguarding your families. In work and life, you model the way.
And, finally, to graduates: All our hopes. I believe these last few months will prove you even more durable in the journey to come. Show the world what Titans are made of.
*Originally shared with UWO students, faculty and staff members via email on May 15, 2020.