Dear AU Family:
While you have heard a lot from me over the past 6 months about COVID-19, that is not the topic of this message. Today is all about a special day. The first day of the academic year—the first day of school. Nothing can take away the inspiration and anticipation of this day, even with the uncertainty we all feel as the world around us turns upside down. Today is a symbolic yet meaningful annual renewal of our mission and purpose as an institution and a community. It is filled with hope for the experiences and learning that our students, faculty and staff will have together this year. Though it is not exactly how we had hoped to begin the semester, it is special in so many ways.
It is a time of fresh starts and new promises. Students, faculty, and staff come together to share their knowledge, experiences, and spirit. We recently celebrated Convocation, which is our unique AU way of welcoming our new students, connecting them with our Scholar-Teacher of the Year, and formally introducing them to who we are as Eagles. And we all come to this semester with hope and a renewed conviction for our core mission of advancing scholarship, learning, and community.
While we may not physically be together, throughout the days, weeks, months, and year ahead, every single member of our community will have the chance to make their mark on AU and our greater world. But truly powerful and transformative experiences don’t just appear—we need to go out there and make them. Becoming more educated, more compassionate, more interconnected, and more globally minded is an active and participatory process. Creating new knowledge that makes our world a better place doesn’t just happen, it is driven by changemakers like you.
The good news is no one is alone on this journey. Every member of the AU community is beside you. Building and sustaining community is a part of our mission. We work to support each other and lift each other up—through good and especially through bad times. We strive to embody the definition of “community” — a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. And I would add, shared values.
So, in the spirit of community, I want to make sure we all pause and reflect on the collective joy of this moment. The things that excite us about AU carry on— whether it is beginning an interesting new class, preparing to listen and learn from our next Sine Institute webinar, advancing research and scholarship that explores our world and shapes our future, or simply reflecting on the promise of a new semester. The joy we all feel centers around what we get to do together: progress scholarship, engage in learning, and build our AU community. And, in a world filled with many challenges, I cannot think of a better place to be or a better community to be a part of.