Posted in Messages
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
In our home, Labor Day weekend has always been suffused with ritual.
When our children were young, Joanne and I scurried to get them ready for school. The frenzied rush to the mall to purchase clothing and school supplies. The binge of summer reading assignments somehow left to the last minute. A family barbecue on the back porch, made slightly bittersweet by Canada’s early autumn chill.
Amidst this rush of activity, I would steal away for a few hours and head to the office to do “The Great Paper Purge.”
The Great Paper Purge was a practice I learned from a former teacher, and later colleague and dear friend, at the University of Toronto, where I started my academic career. This esteemed scholar was of the view that before the start of each academic year, it was imperative over Labor Day weekend to tackle the mass of paper—articles, papers, case files—that had accumulated in his office over the course of the prior year. Keeping only the relatively few piles necessary for ongoing and future research and teaching, and relegating the rest to several large, industrial-size green waste bags. Hence, The Great Paper Purge.
As a young faculty member, it was hard not to be inspired (or, perhaps, shamed) into doing the same. And so, for the last several decades, I adopted this ritual as my own.
This past weekend, as I waded through the towers of paper strewn throughout my work space at Nichols House, I was reminded of how much we have accomplished together this past year.
In the stacks of paper, I saw the evidence of the staggering new research and educational programs that we launched. The glittering cavalcade of faculty whom we hired or promoted. The capital projects we started or completed. The clinical achievements we secured. The myriad policy initiatives undertaken in areas ranging from innovation to biomedical workforce development, to American public health and economic inclusion in our city.
As much as the start of a new academic year stands as a time of renewal and fresh starts, it is also very much a time of intentional continuation. While I discarded most of the paper that accumulated over the past year, much still remains—on interdisciplinary research and teaching, on diversity, on undergraduate education, on safety and security, and on student career readiness, among others. Our work and our conversations on these and other issues continue anew.
This mixture of endings, beginnings, and continuations is what marks and defines the beating heart of the amazing place that is Hopkins.
As I start my 10th year as president, I am no less awed and stirred by the possibilities of our university than when I first arrived—although it would be nice, right about now, to have some of Canada’s early autumn chill. It is an honor to be here and to serve you.
I look forward to working with you all to realize the manifold possibilities of this place of brave innovation, driving excellence, and boundless humanity that knits us together.
Ronald J. Daniels