A Book Called Opportunity

Each January 1, we celebrate the start of a new year, looking forward with hope for peace and prosperity in the coming twelve months. We make plans to improve ourselves and see the turning of the calendar as an opportunity to refocus ourselves, to evaluate and assess, and to set goals for a fruitful year.

As we begin this Spring Semester, I encourage all of you – students, faculty, and staff alike – to take that opportunity. Set bigger goals, strive for greater things, and commit to making 2022 a better year than the one before. That may mean a renewed focus on your studies or research. It may mean taking on a new challenge. Or, it may simply mean dedicating the coming year to taking care of yourself – physically, mentally, or otherwise.

Hoping for a better future is essential to the New Year’s tradition, and that hope has become perhaps even more intense since the pandemic began. Here, at the start of this new semester, we’re now facing yet a new variant. In contrast to the first days of the pandemic, though, we have gained experience and tools to help minimize its impact. These past two years have shown us that we have immense strength when we face these challenges together. We shall continue to keep calm (and healthy) and carry on.

Just this week, the University of Georgia’s football team provided the nation with a vivid example of what hope looks like in a new year. After a crushing defeat by Alabama’s Crimson Tide just last month, the Georgia Bulldogs rallied with a resounding win in the College Football Playoff National Championship – their first national championship title in over four decades. You don’t have to be a fan to be inspired by their comeback story or to appreciate the resulting energy and enthusiasm from faithful fans that have long awaited this win.

Poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce wrote “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”  My hope for this new year is that you will join me in filling those pages – front to back. That we will continue to explore the world together as scholars, and that we will strive to even greater heights than ever before. That we will embrace the opportunity inherent in the start of a new year.  And that we will come together again in 365 days to look back on a year well-lived and another exceptional year to come.

Best wishes for the new year – and be well,