Michael J. Graham S.J., President
Xavier’s annual rites of spring have come and gone. Beginning with the Antonio Johnson scholarship banquet (a swanky affair run by the black student association) and stretching to reunion weekend in June, Xavier’s calendar has been something of a blur. Between those bookends, we honored student leaders, student athletes and student achievers, pinned new nurses and commissioned new second lieutenants. At the heart of these weeks was commencement itself. We prayed over our new graduates at Friday night’s Baccalaureate Mass and sent them forth at graduation the next day. Toss in a trustee meeting and you can see it was quite a spring.
Campus has become a quieter place since then. Not that it lacks activity. Several hundred Procter & Gamble interns have replaced the students at The Commons, the dorm I call home. Summer sessions, summer school and summer workshops are in progress. Nonetheless, campus is a less intense place than it was a few weeks ago. I hope the campus community can have a good break from the activities that kept everyone so busy last year.
Over that year, and in addition to our regular duties, we hired Dr. Roger Fortin as our new academic vice president and added 33 new faculty members. Our faculty committee, ably chaired by Dr. Gillian Ahlgren of the theology department, created an academic vision statement, a road map that will help us plan for the future. Meanwhile, another committee was studying our technology needs, and that committee begat about a dozen subcommittees. Many additional hours were spent by faculty, staff and administrators developing a vision for the library of the future, deliberating on how best to enhance the diversity of the University, exploring initiatives to better engage Xavier with its surrounding communities, and examining ways in which we can sharpen the University’s marketing efforts. Finally, a strategic planning committee began meeting, seeking to draw much of this other work together. In all my years at Xavier, I’ve never seen a semester where so many people have worked so hard. And this short list omits much.
Now, the usual work of the summer is upon us. Faculty is pushing research projects forward and preparing for fall classes, while maintenance is refurbishing the residence halls. Construction crews are creating a green space across from the Gallagher Center even as the student development staff is fine-tuning the center itself. And teams of individuals are developing white papers in anticipation of planning needs for next year. The summer is busy, but not as busy as the last year has been. It’s a good change of pace for everyone.
I’ve long since learned that summers aren’t what they used to be back when I was a school kid in Iowa. On the last day of school in the spring, June, July and August stretched before me like a hazy green infinity of swimming pool days, hide-and-seek evenings, and nights spent with the windows open, lulled to sleep by the whir of the fan. Now those months are over, it seems, before they even begin. But time away at a family reunion and vacation at the Delaware shore with some of my oldest and best friends will remind me what life is really all about.
My hope and prayer for you is that this summer will have enough fireflies in the evening and the laughter of children to remind us of God’s best gifts.