Spring is always such a bittersweet time in the academy. We see renewal all around us, the trees bud and leaves spring forth, flowers bloom (and if you’re like me, your pollen sensors engage, too), and the sun and rain both seem more vibrant and present than before.
We also see our students graduating, leaving us (as they are supposed to do), having grown as people and intellectuals and poised to make a more powerful mark on the world around us. This is our job here at Mason, to prepare for this bittersweet moment, where we say both “Goodbye” and “Congratulations” to students who have helped us as faculty become even more engaged in our fields through our collaborations in the classroom.
For me, this is an even deeper feeling this year. I leave my role as Faculty Senate Chair after two terms, as I begin serving Mason in a new way as associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at Mason Korea on May 24. I am proud of the work the Senate has accomplished over the past two years, on issues including incorporating new members into the Senate, supporting students during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing key advice on all facets of the Safe Return to Campus plan, updating the Faculty Handbook to incorporate critical protections for faculty, and being part of the team to bring a new president to the university. I believe that shared governance at Mason is stronger as a result of our collective efforts.
The university is transitioning away from mostly virtual engagement to mostly in-person engagement in Fall 2021. So too will this column transition. Beginning this fall, columns from the Faculty Senate Chair will be housed on the Faculty Senate webpage. There are more scheduled meetings of the Senate, so there should be even more opportunities for the General Faculty to engage with the chair and the Executive Committee during the Friday Coffee Chats. These forms of communication will continue to strengthen the relationship between the Senate and the General Faculty, as it should given that the Senate is the voice of the General Faculty with the central administration.
And so, I say goodbye for now and congratulations to all who are graduating, have students graduating, or have simply made it through one of the most difficult years in recent history. My very best to you all. Be safe, and be well.