Staying True to Our Mission

A little over a year ago, we were going about our business as usual. To be sure, we were all watching with concern the development of a story about a new virus, but it seemed to be occurring far from our daily lives. We shook hands with our colleagues, we packed ourselves into elevators, we hugged our friends and families as we’ve always done.

When the shift came, it was abrupt. In less than two weeks, we ceased in-person operations – not just on campus, but in our daily lives as well. We retreated into our homes, avoided the company of others, and eagerly anticipated the return of normalcy, a return we expected to see in perhaps a few months.

Twelve months have passed, and we can finally see the light at the end of this seemingly interminable tunnel. Vaccines are being administered at an increasing rate, infection rates are steadily decreasing, and it seems that normal may be within reach again soon. Spring has brought with it – to borrow a phrase from a popular science-fiction series – a new hope.

Over the past year, you’ve heard me praise our institution’s adaptability, and I would be remiss not to applaud that yet again. But this past year’s story is one of more than just changing our practices and our assumptions in order to better face a challenge – it’s one of remaining undeterred, of staying true to our mission. Despite the countless setbacks of 2020, we continued to do the job entrusted to us by the people of Georgia: we continued educating and graduating lifelong learners, preparing them for a life in the ever-changing world outside of these walls. Our adaptability was merely the tool – learning was the task.

And learn we did – students, faculty, and staff alike. As a record number of students graced our classrooms – both in person and virtually – pursuing their academic goals with dogged determination, we were also all learning a bit about ourselves as educators, as community members, and as people. We learned new ways of working, new ways of teaching, new ways of connecting. We learned the resilience of this remarkable place we call Middle Georgia State University. Most importantly, we learned how strong we are – as individuals and as part of a team.

As we prepare for our much-desired and long-awaited return to normalcy – perhaps this summer, certainly by this fall – I want to extend one more expression of gratitude to all of you, not only for the hard work and dedication you’ve shown to this place and to one another, but also for the lessons shared and lessons learned. Thank you, and let’s embrace the hope for a brighter future as we look ahead into a very different next twelve months.