College of Arts and Sciences



In the midst of this whirlwind first week of the semester, my thoughts keep turning to my privilege.

MLK Jr. Day now always invites me to consider the unearned privilege of my identities, and I did again this week.

This year more than ever, Inauguration Day reminded me of the rare privilege of living in a society that—despite its troubling fragility—once again conducted a peaceful transition to new, democratically elected leaders.

I know well that privileges such as these carry obligations and responsibilities.

And some privileges, I’ve been reminded, can be challenging to bear.

As I drove back from Orlando on Monday, my thoughts were occupied with such burdensome privileges. The past weeks have left me at once thankful for and exhausted by unearned gifts, most of which I never thought to desire.

There was the privilege to celebrate one last Christmas Eve around the piano with my mother, nearly four years after a first frightening cancer diagnosis.

The privilege in the following days to join with my sister and heroic hospice nurses to care for her, day and night, as her health deteriorated quickly—just as she had hoped.

The privilege to sit with her, as she drew her last breath—with faith, in peace, and at home.

Moments of music and laughter punctuated the grief and burden of those days, and those too I received as privileges.

Many of you have been on my mind. You too have lost parents and other loved ones in the past days and months and years. Not all, I know, received the same consolations I did. And many experienced different ones, I’m sure.

And finally, I have been overwhelmed by the privilege of your generous support and care. Some of you, especially those in the Dean’s office, allowed me to step away for a time from the obligations of my position. Many of you across the college and the university poured out your support, your care, your prayers, and your condolences.

I feel extraordinarily privileged to belong to our Xavier community. Thank you.

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