Greetings students, faculty, and staff:
As WashU’s new Chancellor-elect, allow me to say Happy New Year and welcome to the start of the spring semester. I hope you enjoyed some rest and relaxation this winter break and have returned rejuvenated and eager to forge ahead in your studies, scholarship, and work.
I am delighted and honored to return to campus to serve as your 15th Chancellor. Washington University in St. Louis is a vibrant institution filled with tradition; rich with diversity; committed to innovation, progress, and inclusion; and marked by leaders who have paved a course for a thriving future. We are certainly well-positioned for that future, though we also acknowledge that many challenges lie ahead. As Chancellor-elect, I look forward to doubling down on our strengths while addressing those challenges. And I look forward to working together as we continue to pursue excellence; to ensure WashU is a place where all people feel safe, valued, and included; and to maintain our position as a world-renowned leader in scholarship, learning, patient care, and public service.
For me personally, I’m thrilled to be here and ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I officially moved to St. Louis over the Thanksgiving break, though it took a few weeks before I could finally see our living room couch underneath the mountain of boxes. In the midst of the “cardboard chaos,” my wife, Stephanie, our daughter, Olive, and I enjoyed time re-acclimating to the St. Louis area and spending the holidays with family and friends. Some of the highlights included an evening walk across campus, time in the Loop, several great meals, and reconnecting with our St. Louis friends who we’ve missed over the last four and a half years.
More importantly, winter break allowed me to look toward what promises to be a tremendous season. Spring is always an exciting time at Washington University in St. Louis, as we have much to anticipate — from winter athletics postseason play to spring performances; WashU’s annual Day of Discovery, Dialogue, and Action; our annual Lunar New Year Festival; prominent speakers and lectures; Commencement; and much more. I plan to partake in many activities, especially as I get to know each of you, become reacquainted with campus and the broader community, and learn more about the life-changing initiatives that make WashU such an extraordinary place.
This spring, we will also celebrate and honor Chancellor Wrighton’s last semester as WashU’s 14th Chancellor. We plan to pay tribute to his remarkable leadership on various occasions throughout the semester, and I hope you’ll join me whenever you are able to share your appreciation and recognize the contributions he has made in his 24 years of service. Chancellor Wrighton has taken this university to an unprecedented level, all while ensuring we remain rooted in our core mission and values, and I am immensely grateful for his leadership, wisdom, integrity, and guidance. During several occasions, he described the role of chancellor well when he said, “I like ‘doorkeeper’…because my principal role is to open the doors to this great University for men and women to enter, learn, create, and contribute to making our world a better place.” Throughout his tenure, Chancellor Wrighton did just that — opened doors to endless possibilities. As Chancellor-elect, I undoubtedly have big shoes to fill, though I am confident we will honor his legacy as we work to build on his success and the success of those who led before him.
In that vein, in the coming days, weeks, and months, you might see me pop in to several meetings, classrooms, labs, and facilities simply to listen and learn as I reflect on our past and discern our future. If you see me around campus, please stop and say hello. Or, if something’s on your mind, send me an email or message me on Twitter. As Chancellor-elect, my utmost desire is to continue in Chancellor Wrighton’s and Chancellor Danforth’s footsteps as I cultivate an atmosphere of openness with students, faculty and staff. For as Chancellor Bill Danforth once said:
“We are fortunate in our heritage, but that heritage will mean little unless we use it well in our era and build on it for those who come after…I am certain that we will hand on to those who come after us a Washington University with its strength and traditions elaborated and enhanced, ready for each new faculty member and for each student.”
Warmest regards and good wishes on the start of a new semester. It’s an exciting time to be a Bear, and I am delighted to join you as we build upon WashU’s legacy of strong research, learning, and patient care, all to the service of the greater good.