For those who don’t know the ins and outs of an organization as large and complex as the one we’re all fortunate to be a part of, spring commencement can seem like an endpoint. While the new graduates are heading out to meet their futures, to the uninformed, it appears as if those of us left behind have little left to do but tidy up, take a deep breath, and rest up for next year.
Of course, anyone involved in higher education understands how untrue – and unfair – that perception really is. While the spring commencement ceremony does mean closing the book on another academic year, and it certainly is that tangible achievement we all work toward, the reality is that the vast majority of us get to take maybe one breath before we go right back to making it all happen again.
Obviously, summer gives most of us the chance to recharge our batteries to at least some degree, and we hope that all our employees – faculty and staff alike – are able to do just that. However, I want to acknowledge that for the vast majority of us, summer merely means switching gears. For some, the work cycle doesn’t really change at all. For others, it even intensifies.
Take some of our operational and support units. For many of them, some of the hardest work of the year is being done right now. The Registrar’s Office, for example, is building the courses and looking into the academic planning required for the next year. Financial Aid also experiences a lot of activity during the summer months. For all intents and purposes, rolling out the new academic year is really going on now, and this work, though not always noticed or appreciated, is critical to the smooth kick off our faculty, staff, and students expect when classes resume at full strength in the fall.
Faculty members are also deceptively busy during the summer months. While some are teaching classes during the summer or helping a select group of undergraduates learn the ropes in various research fields through the CURS Summer Scholars program, others are gaining ground on the specific academic project goals that drive them. Summer is the time when many are involved in doing intensive scholarship – taking the trips, writing the papers, doing the research – that will both promote themselves and the university.
We do not overlook that work. In fact, we celebrate it.
This is also the time of year when our recruitment cycle begins to kick into high gear – not for this academic year, but for next. It’s now that we’re developing materials and strategies for the next recruitment cycle, which will begin in a few months. In fact, a facet of our previous recruitment effort will soon be rolling all around us, with several of our buses wrapped in the “I Chose” campaign, which has proved extremely popular with prospective students.
One of the things that is generating a lot of additional work for a lot of people is our Summer Academies program – a Health Sciences Summer Academy and a Cyber Sciences Summer Academy – that will launch in a few weeks. We hope these free, residential summer programs for high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will become part of the Governor’s Honors Program, a prestigious residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students.
Though these two academies, associated as they are with two of our most identifiable strengths, our already robust health sciences programs and the newly emerging Cyber Institute, are perhaps the most obvious of our summer offerings, we truly have a wide variety of different summer programs, from basketball camps to music camps to the Kids University, all of which provide area children genuine learning opportunities here on our campus, under our instruction, forming bonds with our institution.
In many ways, summer is when we plant the seeds that our future selves will harvest, which is one of the reasons I find this time of year so personally rewarding. Though others might be distracted by the countless diversions that go hand-in-hand with the season, I look around and am filled with an extreme sense of gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice displayed by our GRU family.
Thank you, all of you, for everything that you do.