The spirit of the season

12/10/2011

Good Saturday to all of you,

The demands of these past days kept me from connecting with you last Sunday. I know that you are focused on the successfully completing the semester. Finals week is upon us, and next Saturday UCO will graduate about a thousand students who have earned bachelors and masters degrees. I wish you unqualified success this week.

This semester has evaporated in the swirl of classes, events, organizational projects, activities, volunteer initiatives, athletic contests a brief fall break and the appreciated Thanksgiving holiday. I sincerely wish you a successful conclusion to this term and a well-earned respite before we fully engage in the opportunities to learn, lead and serve in 2012.

Once again I marveled at the organizational sophistication and the clear expression of servant leadership as I wandered amid the throngs of children and all of you at the annual Presidents Christmas Club gathering on Friday. If anyone was searching for the face of the Christmas spirit, it was to be found both among the Edmond first graders and you, their UCO mentors and sponsors for the day. Those tiny faces beamed with anticipation and joy in a manner not soon to be forgotten. I was truly proud of all of our students, staff and faculty who selflessly produced a day to be long remembered by them or their young charges. Thank you, UCO family, for being the message of the this unique time of the year.

Today, December 10th, is globally recognized as Human Rights Day. In 1948, the international community adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a list of the inherent rights all of us on the planet should enjoy without exception. This Declaration continues to be the international community’s barometer in judging if we are succeeding in according all peoples the essential elements of a decent life. Adopted soon after the unprecedented carnage of World War II, the Declaration remains a collective expression of humankind as a work in progress. For me, like the US Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, this universal document is a reminder that we create the environment in which live. By what we say and what we do, by what we accept, and what we reject, we daily define ourselves and our communities. We are our brothers and sisters keepers.

As I listen to many of you and discover your passions and aspirations, I learn that you are proceeding to build your lives around a set of values, and that you are emerging servant leaders, so vital to the health of our society, from local to global. More than ever, I see you as the change in the manner in which we on this earth conduct ourselves. You are walking the talk in so many encouraging ways. Hold fast to your servant’s heart.

I look to seeing you at the late night breakfast on campus this week, and perhaps at the commencement ceremonies on Saturday. As we end the semester, so we begin again in January.

I wish you a sustained passion for learning, leading and serving, and a holiday filled with joy and meaning.

I believe in you.

Don Betz