Reflecting on a Year as President In a Time Like No Other
As the 2020 spring semester comes to a close, so too will my service to Wilkes as interim president. As I reflect upon the last year, many moments come to mind: welcoming the newest class of Colonels along the Karambelas Gateway during Welcome Weekend, handing diplomas to our students on behalf of my colleagues at our September and January commencements, watching our student-athletes celebrate by ringing the victory bell at Bruggeworth Field and receiving the presidential chain of office from Dan Cardell ’79, my longtime friend and our current chair of the Wilkes Board of Trustees, during my installation. These are among the most memorable; however, my interactions with students and colleagues across campus and at our events always remain the highlight of my days.
In the last issue of Wilkes, I wrote about having the opportunity to remember the life of Dr. Francis J. Michelini – known affectionately as “Dr. Mike” – who we lost in September 2019. Dr. Mike was president of Wilkes during 1972 when floodwaters that followed Hurricane Agnes ravaged our campus and countless communities in our region. Through his Operation Snapback, Dr. Mike led recovery efforts after the flood, ensuring that Wilkes was able to reopen for the fall semester.
As I write this, we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought unthinkable changes to our lives and left us with more questions than answers. Now, more than ever, I am moved by the patience and resolve displayed by Dr. Mike and his colleagues. They confronted seemingly insurmountable challenges head-on, and worked tirelessly to rebuild our campus so that the mission of Wilkes could continue. During this pandemic, when we are once again challenged as an institution, I am inspired by our sense of community, and the strength and the determination shown by Wilkes students, faculty, staff and alumni throughout these trying times. And, I am confident that this interminable spirit and resilience of Wilkes and its people will raise us from the challenges of the pandemic and have us emerge as a stronger and more effective university.
I hope you all continue to stay well, stay healthy and be Colonel.