Chancellor's Friday Letters

Celebrating a Farewell

Celebrating a Farewell

May 25, 2012

Dear Friends,

As we careen toward the end of the academic year, our time is filled with celebrations, remembrances and myriad events that mark our journeys from beginning to end….then of course…there are finals. I am always struck by the strong sense of community that reverberates through this time of year, and is a particular strength of the University of California, Riverside.

Today, I write to you about some of the events this week that help us embrace one another and embody our core values as a respectful and caring community.

Hats off to Staff Assembly for organizing the first-ever Community Week at UCR.  Hundreds of faculty, staff and students joined in the various events held each noon hour, from a BBQ, to a fitness walk, to beautifying the campus by Science Laboratories 1 yesterday.  This inaugural week-long event will turn into an annual event, building community and pride in our campus for years to come.

And today, please join me for the last Community Week event over the noon hour on the best running surface in California, the new UCR Track Facility.  We can walk, jog or run…and “Pete Weston,” aka Undercover Boss, will demonstrate the finer technical aspects of moving hurdles.  The eight-lane Rekortan M99 world championship surface is quite something, and has an additional inside lane for recreational jogging.

Wednesday evening we hosted a light dinner for our students, faculty, staff, and community members who are part of our three study abroad programs.  This was a Bon Voyage Celebration for about 200 undergraduate students who are within weeks or months away from studying abroad in one (or more) of 30 countries, or spending a term or two at sea.  UCR established this program on our campus in 1961, and so the gathering Wednesday was the golden anniversary since the first contingent of students.

Our students who study in other countries are challenged and stretched in ways that help create global citizens in a world-wide community…men and women who understand and respect the differences that exist around the world. These differences sometimes can become divisive centrifugal forces that pull us apart, but when one engages and immerses oneself in other cultures as these students will, they learn that the commonalities among us are much stronger than the differences, and are a centripetal force that pulls us together.

I am proud of these students, and more than a little bit envious of the sojourns they are embarking on.

Thursday late afternoon was our 2012 Campus Memorial…a somber, sad and yet important time to pause and recall those among us who passed away this year.  This remembrance is a period of reflection, a time of mourning, and also a celebration of those who contributed so much and enriched our lives with their presence.

For some faculty, staff and alumni, death was expected and occurred after a long and productive life.  Sadness and emptiness exists, nonetheless, for those left behind. Others passed unexpectedly and earlier than anyone thought appropriate.  For these families and friends, the burden is a little heavier, and thoughts of moments missed dilute the warm memories of times shared and events accomplished.

And for me the toughest of all is when our students are taken from us, mostly from traumatic injuries in an accident.  These young scholars – Abdulmohsen Albeshr, Angelique DeLeon, Davis Dihn Ha, Stafone Jackson, and Colin Roche – already had accomplished so much in their tragically short lives. And we bear great sadness in losing them as fellow students, friends, and family members.  While we do our best to celebrate their lives’ accomplishments, we can’t help but mourn the reality that we will not bear proud witnesses to their contributions in the decades ahead.

And while I can’t say that I enjoy the Memorial, I can say that I value it deeply.  There is a power in our community, a power of healing together from the difficult times.  For individuals, there is strength in knowing that others share their grief, and comfort in acknowledging the many gifts their loved ones actually gave while they were with us.

Finally, the Campus Memorial is a way for each of us to remember to celebrate every day the accomplishments of those we are close to in our family, work, school, and community, and as I have said on other occasions, to “square up” with those who matter the most.



Tim White, Chancellor

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