Sitting temporarily in the president’s office, I am looking out on part of the campus and watching the wind whip up leaves along a dry river on a cool afternoon. Being here is quite an experience! I have often reminded faculty that I came to Incarnate Word as an adjunct professor and eventually became the academic vice president and then the provost. Isn’t Incarnate Word a wonderful place of opportunity and surprises!
This year, I have had the occasion to look back over my 25 years of service at UIW and I am immediately struck by all of the changes we have experienced. Like many returning alumni, I can hardly envision the campus as it was when I first walked across it. The new buildings, new paths, and beautiful landscape seem to crowd out my first impressions of 1988.
The years have passed swiftly, and change and construction, while incremental, have become part of the normal life of the university. So have hard-hat workers, cranes, bulldozers, and detours. Even now as we wind our way around the campus, making room for the new Fine Arts Complex, it is gratifying to think that soon we will complete that long-awaited project and move on to a Student Engagement Center, a School of Osteopathic Medicine, and then a new building somewhere and the next program in something, all of which will continue to mark the ever-changing and vibrant expressions of the UIW footprint.
“This year, I have had the occasion to look back over my 25 years of service at UIW and I am immediately struck by all of the changes we have experienced.”
Today, looking out the president’s office window, I am struck by some characteristics of our student body that have changed. Every student crossing the bridge or heading to class will generally have a telephone in hand and something plugged into his or her ears. Each one is enjoying the beat of their favorite music or maybe even motivational talk. Across the way I see a large number of international students going back and forth to their English language classes and representing many corners of the world.
Recently, we have become home for a substantial contingent of students from Saudi Arabia, many of them women, most of whom wear hijabs – scarves that cover their faces. I also see students in ROTC uniforms and all the many student-athletes who walk with teammates, wearing their team gear and colors that remind us of the many hours spent in practice in addition to their studies. Students find their niches in the growing number of smaller communities that are integrated into the diversity and complexity of the larger community of UIW.
In the midst of all of this change, I often reflect on how some things don’t change: the energy of young students stepping forward into the next phase of life; the incredible opportunities faculty create to engage their students in positive and life-giving directions; the invisible but unmistakable presence of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word shepherding us along as they have for generations; and the reach of the Mission and vision of the University of the Incarnate Word that continues to energize faculty, students and administrators.
So, the essence of Incarnate Word still grounds us while the winds of change scatter us in new and exciting directions.
Please accept my best wishes for a safe and rewarding spring.
Dr. Denise Doyle