November 24, 2014
The following letter is directed specifically to students, but much of my message applies to faculty, staff, parents, alumni, colleagues and friends as well. My hope is that this message is a reminder to be thankful for all those you hold dear and my wish is that you return to campus or your daily activities relaxed and revitalized following time with your families.
I am writing to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving. Even for our newest international students, who may not have experienced this uniquely American tradition before, you will find that Thanksgiving is a special celebration. It comes at the end of November, when grey skies and falling temperatures begin to keep people indoors, and because you can't do much about the weather, it is a perfect time to celebrate the togetherness it fosters. This holiday is also perfect because it gives us a sizable break from our work and offers an opportunity to be grateful for the good things in our lives. So I want to tell you how grateful I am to be president of this great University and to have the opportunity to work with so many outstanding students who do so much for our campus and our community.
Over the next several days, almost all of you will be leaving campus — most will be going home to share the holiday with family, though some of you will tag along with friends and borrow a family for the long weekend. Being conscientious students, you will undoubtedly bring books and laptops with you, vowing to work on that psychology term paper or incredibly hard calculus homework assignment, or read that 500-page opus your English professor assigned. Despite your best intentions, your backpack may remain unopened till you start to load the car for your return trip. No one will fault you.
I hope that you will make the most of this break from your studies. Enjoy the routine of being home. Perhaps on Thursday, help mash potatoes or make a pie and on Friday, fill up on leftovers. Savor the aromas of the kitchen, toss a football with your brothers, sisters or friends, and let the family pet give you a big, wet, kiss. Sleep until noon, and maybe even take a nap.
Thanksgiving is a great time for talking. Tell your mom, tell your dad, tell your siblings, tell your friends, tell grandma and grandpa how much you like being with them. Talk to them about school. Talk to them about the test you aced, your new best friend and the internship you are aiming for. Tell your parents about your courses and professors and most of all, share with them the pride in your accomplishments, as well as your worries about what the future will bring. And on Sunday, when you say goodbye, tell them how grateful you are to have their support.
I want you to return safely – relaxed and revitalized. The final three weeks of the semester are among the most challenging of the academic year. Papers and projects are coming due, with finals right behind them. Make smart choices in the coming weeks. You'll need all the energy and concentration you can muster for the academic challenges ahead.
Good luck on the completion of all your work and know that I, and every member of the University faculty and staff, wish you the very best.