Dear students, faculty and staff members,
More than a century ago, in the years following the First World War, wounded veterans of the conflict participated in educational training courses on our campus. As part of their recovery, the students collected acorns from live oak trees around the property and planted them in other spots on campus. Many of those oaks are still standing, and we continue to enjoy their shade and beauty today.
Service is figuratively and – as this story illustrates, literally – in our University’s roots. This spirit of giving back, of connecting with others through acts of selflessness and generosity, is who we are as a community, and you don’t have to explore the far recesses of our nearly 125-year history to find examples of how service strengthens us as a University and fuels the ties that bind us to the region and world.
When our researchers provide solutions to great global challenges, that’s a service. When student-athletes visit hospitalized children and deliver messages of hope and joy, that’s one, too. When a colleague offers a kind word to a coworker, when a student encourages another, when a faculty member spends extra time with a pupil so they can master a course – these are all examples of ordinary gestures that can have extraordinary consequences, both for the person offering the helping hand and for the recipient.
I am heartened by the example of students and employees who participate in The Big Event each spring. It’s probably the most visible demonstration of the spirit of service we embody as a University. Imagine – a battalion of volunteers who mobilize with the solitary goal of doing good for their community. It’s impressive and gratifying. This year’s Big Event is March 25, and I hope you’ll consider participating.
As the new year and new semester begin, I want to encourage each of you to take a moment to rest under one of our beautiful live oaks. As you do so, think of the people who planted it, and the service their actions provided to subsequent generations. They did so without knowing if they would ever enjoy its shade, but they hoped that someone, even more than a century later, might.
Service has an enduring quality. It’s an investment in tomorrow that I encourage each of you make today and throughout the coming year. We’ll be a stronger, kinder community if you do.
Here’s to a successful spring semester, Ragin’ Cajuns.
Dr. Joseph Savoie