President's message about moving on
July 31, 2019
This is my last eblast to you. I've written to our students over 40 times now, and I recently became nostalgic reading them all again.
They reminded me of the specific issues that led to my wanting to reach out to you. There were horrific shootings at churches and synagogues. There were some very sad moments involving student safety, that led me to urge you, as if I were your dad, to take care of yourself, and to ask your rideshare driver "What's My Name?" There were all too many hurricanes and floods where I told you what we were thinking and planning, pretty much in real time.
There were deliriously happy concerts and World Series and Final Fours and Bowl Games, where I couldn't contain my joy so I let my keyboard overflow with giddiness.
There were spring breaks and summer vacations that prompted me to advise you to be productive and happy, to fall in love if you were so inclined, and to take time to talk with your families about yourself and your life at college.
There were Thanksgivings, when I merely wished you to find the joy in simple things, things like food made at home, family, serving others and living a principled life ... the basic things that form our greatest memories.
During one flood event, I even held a contest to ask you how we could make the university better and, wow, was I surprised. We were swamped with great ideas, some of which have already improved our university. We did that just by listening to you.
This message, however, was the hardest one for me to write. I decided to share with you a bit of wisdom about something that's hard for me right now, and will undoubtedly be hard for you when you graduate and at other significant times in your life when you need to "move on."
How do you close the door on your home? How do you not look back?
Some describe moving on as the closing of one door and the opening of another, but I don't like the thought of closing the door on my university. How do you close the door on your home? How do you not look back?
So, l am preferring to treat moving on as stepping through an open window ... a window that, once through, you can turn around and see where you've been. When I turn around and look back, I will see very happy things ... things that will bring me great joy. I'm going to see you storming the court at the Colonial Life Arena; I'm going to see you jumping in the Thomas Cooper Library fountain after victories that took us to the Final Four; I'm going to see you dancing and volunteering at Dance Marathon, Relay for Life and MLK Day of Service. I'm going to see you at our Town Halls and Dive-in Lunches; I'm going to see you studying for finals as Patricia and I brought you trail mix and apples; I'm going to see us snapping selfies and "high fiving." And I'm going to see 117,662 of the finest young men and women any college president can ever know graduating during the 181 commencements I've presided over in 11 years as President.
In fact, most of my most profound and everlasting memories were made with you. Thank you, sincerely for all of those.
Gamecock students, I wish I could take all of you for a ride in my Mini, and maybe someday I will ... but for now, I will do as Dr. Seuss said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
Thank you forever, and Forever to Thee.