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Message from the President 11/2/18

Image of the Ravine in Fall

Dear Campus Community,

Fall is my favorite season at Eastern, when the leaves become a blanket of beautiful colors with hues of green, red, yellow and orange all playing their individual parts on a collective canvas. United, they paint a picture that truly defines “The Campus Beautiful.”

As autumn creates this diverse natural landscape, it reflects another beautifully diverse and rich experience around us all year: our people.

At EKU, we are a community of one-of-a-kind individuals, weaved together to form a big, beautiful picture. Students, employees, alumni and others who are ethnically and culturally diverse make living and working on our campus very special. Classroom learning is complemented by the opportunity to learn from people with cultures, likes, dislikes, beliefs and convictions that are different from our own. This journey of personal growth, discovery and knowledge is foundational to the “Eastern Experience” and makes us all better global citizens. It is key to the assertion that a college education is a wise investment.

As all of us engage together in this educational process — on a campus that is home to our living and learning community — I am often reminded of this quote from one of my favorite writers, Robert Frost:

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

Universities have long been revered as sanctuaries for freedom of expression, exchange of ideas and vigorous debate. In our state and our nation, recent violent acts have been committed by individuals and groups who do not share our values, but choose hate and intolerance instead. Our hearts go out to the victims of these heinous acts.

Recently, a student penned an open letter to my office and EKU calling for unity in times of division. It was penned before the recent spate of violence that has dominated the news cycle, but the message is even more poignant today:

“Listen to your neighbor, even when everything in you is shouting they are wrong, you might just be surprised at the insight they can bring to the table. Stand united with your community, do not let it divide, do not let it fail, because only you can bolster and nurture your community. Look toward the future, not with the bitter hatred of the world, but the pure hope of the world that could be, because even in the light of all the pain and all the hurt, there is still hope to be found.” 

A defining characteristic of EKU is our ability to foster hope and provide opportunity for all. I see hope in the eyes and smiles of incoming freshmen and new graduates. It is my greatest source of joy and pride to see lives changed and Colonels’ dreams brought to fruition, thanks to the hard work of our EKU family.

When you choose Eastern Kentucky University, you are choosing to learn, live or work at a place that values each individual as a unique and special part of the whole. You become a Colonel, a bond we all share. We are at our best and strongest when our support for our peers and coworkers is unconditional and unlimited. I consider myself very fortunate to be a member of this community and know that many of you feel the same way.

As we move into the closing months of the semester, there are three items I would like to highlight:

First, November marks the time when students wrap up projects and begin to prepare for final exams. Students, your successes are a direct reflection of our collective efforts. Support each other. Ensuring the best possible outcomes for you is perhaps the single most important aspect of University life that unites us as Colonels.

Second, next Tuesday, November 6, please exercise your right to vote and make your voice heard. Plan your day accordingly — employees, take the time allowed to make it to the polls. Students, remember to check your registration and poll location and return absentee ballots, especially if you live out of your voting precinct.

And finally, moving toward the holiday season, I hope we can all be even more kind and considerate of our peers, coworkers and friends. Help them through the tough times and celebrate with them during the good times. That is what we do as EKU Colonels.

Thank you for helping make EKU the special place we know and love.

Yours sincerely,
Michael T. Benson

Published on November 02, 2018

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