I began the week enjoying our annual “Late Night Breakfast” sponsored by the IRC and the Office of Residential Life. This year we started a new tradition, and special thanks go to the members of the faculty and staff from across the campus who delivered food and bused tables that night. They took their role of serving students literally! And I hope this gave everyone the boost they needed for exams and that you passed them all with flying colors. Thanks to Rob Gilmore and Chartwells for making this year’s event special.
I also had a great chance to meet with student government leaders this week when I asked them to dinner and cooked for them. It gave me the opportunity to check on how the semester was going and to get their feedback – and to keep things moving along.
And speaking of moving things along, as many of you know, we are in the midst of crafting a strategic plan for the next five years. As I’ve said, it is vitally important that all of us take an active part in this process to ensure that the plan represents our best thinking and that when it is presented to the Board of Trustees in May. The formal “kick off” for this process was Wednesday. My special thanks to Dr. David Coppola for his coordination of everything thus far. And thank you all for the hard work this will entail over the coming months. It will be worth it.
I got to participate in a ceremony this week I certainly hope we can repeat. The Energy Efficiency Fund and United illuminating, the firm that supplies the University’s electricity needs, formally presented us with a rebate check for $204,461. Since December 2009, we have been reimbursed almost a third-of-a-million dollars for energy upgrades. The long-and-the-short of it is that we are being rewarded when we put systems and equipment in place that will help us save money. This, in conjunction with practical measures like turning off the lights if you’re the last one to leave a room or sealing open spaces to cut down on wintry drafts, has saved us very considerable funds. These can now be used for financial assistance or physical upgrades: a much better way to spend those dollars. And it is working to make our world a greener, more hospitable, place. It’s a win for everyone. Thanks to Ed Dobransky and Mike Austin for all their efforts on behalf of the University and our planet.
And, it is good to see that a little over a year after its dedication, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit continues to make headlines. This week alone, the smaller Chapel of the Nativity was the “cover story” for America, the respected national Jesuit magazine. Father Jim Martin, who was honored by the University at Freshman Convocation in September, wrote the piece, which was both thought-provoking and insightful. And the Chapel’s new stained-glass windows were featured in a beautiful pictorial essay in the Connecticut Post newspaper.
In closing out both the semester and 2010, I want to thank each and every one of you for your vital contributions to our life together and our common goals. Once again, in the face of challenges this year, our community did what it always does when confronted with a demonstrated need: it rolled up its sleeves and said, “How can we help?” We had many causes to celebrate this year, and sometimes we came together in sorrow as well. Christmas reminds all of us that in the midst of any darkness, a shining light still guides our destinies. I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday break and a bright, prosperous and peaceful New Year!