FROM: Dr. Melik Peter Khoury
DATE: August 21, 2017
SUBJECT: As We Start a New Academic Year: Times like these are made for Unity College!
Unity College Colleagues,
Every fall brings promise of great things and another year of opportunity for America’s Environmental College. I trust that you are as excited and anxious to open the school year 2017-18 as I am.
We all have our list of things we look forward to. I know I have mine: connecting and reconnecting with students and their families, launching new academic and student support programs, and watching the reaction of brand new employees as they attend Convocation for the first time.
Most of all, I am looking forward to working with you to respond to the particular challenges – some will be predictable, but most will not – that we will face together in the coming year.
I am happy to say that with this entering class, and with the gains we’ve realized over the last couple of years, it looks like we may be making incremental progress in student ethnic and geographical diversity. We are certainly making progress in our staff and faculty diversity.
As we meet new community members, we should absolutely share our high expectations for what it means to live, work, and learn in Unity: inclusivity and integrity; respect for environment; and high professional standards to name a few. But let’s also make every effort to learn from and grow with our new friends, colleagues, and students. What are their expectations? How might we help them feel welcomed and supported here?
I don’t have to tell you that we are living in a time of social challenges and political tensions that will provide the background and basis for much of the learning and growth our students and we will experience over the coming year.
Of course we are prepared. Our staff has been working all summer to make this campus the most welcoming place it can be: new student success coaches, updated residence halls, diversity and inclusivity dialogs, enhanced and cultural dining experiences, a new team of stellar R.A.s, and a small things like the new gazebo where folks can meet and spend time together. Once they were all back from summer classes and campus — from online to Curacao to Minnesota — our faculty has been doing research, preparing classes, and working to welcome, or welcome back, our students.
But preparation means more than simply having our programs and facilities ready. I’ve said it before: this college is intrepid. For the sake of our students and each other, we are committed to meeting whatever challenges and opportunities come our way in the spirit of collaboration, inclusivity, and learning. Let there be no doubt: there will be challenges this year, and, given the larger context, they will likely be of a variety and volume this college has never seen before. I have no doubt that this community will continue to rise to every challenge and find and share the absolute best versions of ourselves. For each other, for this college, for our students.
Time of social change presents a special opportunity to an institution of higher learning. Unity College has an obligation to provide our students with the conditions necessary for learning and growth that will prepare them not just to survive change, not just to flourish in time of change, but to lead positive change in our society and in our world. Times like these are made for leadership. Times like these are made for Unity College.
As we invest a few days together this week on professional development and each other and open school next week, let’s do so in a spirit of service for our students and society. No matter what happens in the world, this can be Unity College’s best year ever. Let’s make a joint commitment to make it so because Unity is up to us.
Dr. Melik Peter Khoury