E Pluribus Quercus. From many, oak. I have always said that I had two classes in high school that were truly useful to my academic success: typing and Latin. Having just pressed them both into service, my first weeks on campus have driven home the great strength that emerges from the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students. I have been awe struck by the range of things that our community is engaged in and by the excellence with which they are pursued.
About a week ago, I received an unsolicited letter from a visitor to campus who had been so impressed by how humble, curious, and respectful our students are —compared to the students on the many other campuses he had recently revisited — that he had written to me. He was no less complimentary about the ESF staff who had made his visit so welcoming and productive. This didn’t tell me anything I hadn’t already seen for myself, but it is good to know that it does not go unnoticed by visitors to campus.
I will be visiting with faculty, department by department, in the near future to share elements of a vision that is starting to come together in my thoughts. In addition to asking faculty to begin thinking along these lines, too, I will be appointing several informal committees to explore aspects of this vision. The goal will then be to sweep these various ideas together and create a vision with sufficient detail to engage the entire ESF community in debating its merits and refining it into more complete form. From this will emerge the broad outline for an updated strategic plan for the college.
While I launch these planning activities, I will continue to focus on listening and learning. I have managed to at least walk through all of the buildings on campus and am looking forward to visiting our facilities elsewhere in the state at the earliest date possible. Thank you for your patience as I have begun to settle in and acclimatize to the warm community on campus and the not-so-warm winter we remain in the grips of.