It is Tuesday of finals week, and we are reminded by the changing temperatures today that, despite the balmy conditions of the past weeks, winter lies before us. Time to remember where we stashed those gloves!
This is a week of exams, programs, ROTC and Nursing School ceremonies as well as four consecutive commencements. The rituals of concluding the academic term are fully underway. Each is a memorable moment for so many families and friends who will stream into UCO to cheer their special graduate. These are rites of passage, historic occasions for those who have earned these accomplishments. I am always heartened by the way you all open our university and its unique warmth to our special guests.
Soon many of you will be focused on holiday plans, be it gathering family at home or trekking off to a fresh adventure adding to your trove of experience, knowledge and perspective. I sent each of you a lovely card designed by one of our talented students. I did not sign each one individually, but please know that the sentiment is genuine and that I am truly grateful for your supportive efforts on behalf of our students and each other. Please travel well and safely, and return after this lengthy hiatus refreshed as we reconvene in 2013 as a university community.
The coming year will produce its unique patchwork of surprises as well as anticipated opportunities and challenges. Soon the state legislature will begin its session which will last the span of our spring semester. We will be about the business, in collaboration with the State Regents and our fellow Oklahoma institutions, of making the compelling case for higher education. The bases for state funding are changing across the USA as both expectations and budgets respond to a cascade of suggestions for improvement. We will be in these conversations for the foreseeable future as technology continues to present new and often challenging alternatives for learning. This swirl surrounds us all even as we move deep into the planning begun last fall.
Twice since I have returned to UCO, at 100 and 300 days, I mentioned that these are acknowledged checkpoints in the tenure of a president when it is appropriate to take the measure of things, the state of the institution and the presidency. As of today, we are at the third marker, as I rejoined you here now 500 days ago.
It is a milestone for me and for us as we take stock of where we were, are now, and intend to be. I have appreciated the perspective and counsel that many of you have shared with me from day one. I continue to see communication with you, from inter-personal to community-wide, as intrinsic to our success. There are a variety of benchmarks one can use to assess these days. With more challenge and change before us, I believe we are adopting a more creative and adaptive manner of approaching this year of challenge and change. You remain our most valued and enduring asset.
I thank you for this opportunity to serve and to develop together the dynamic culture of learning, leading and serving needed to lead change rather than to become its captive.
Wishing you a marvelous holiday season.