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Message from President Rebecca S. Chopp
Photo by Andrew Daddio
Since announcing that I will be leaving Colgate at the end of May to become president of Swarthmore College, I have been amazed by the ways in which members of the community have reached out to me. What has been most remarkable, though, is how each memory shared from the past seven years is really a reflection on Colgate today and all that we have done together to continue Colgate’s great momentum.
I take great pride in my time as president of Colgate and the ways in which faculty, alumni, students, staff, parents, and the Hamilton community have joined to amplify Colgate’s excellence in all areas and proudly tell the Colgate story. Colgate is a leader in higher education because Colgate people make it so. Each person plays a role and will continue to do so, because that’s the Colgate way. Always looking forward. Always climbing. Always doing more for today’s students.
In all that we have worked on and enjoyed together, we have focused on the heart of Colgate: the excellence of our academic programs. We have built extraordinary new facilities that make a strong statement about Colgate’s commitment to academic excellence. We have created a new model for residential education that closely ties together the in- and out-of-class experiences. We have cheered on our teams at Patriot League championship and NCAA tournament games, while having the top graduation rates of student-athletes in the country. We have welcomed visiting artists and attended performances and shows put on by our own undergraduate artists. We have welcomed leading thinkers to campus to address issues of global impact. We have formed cross-disciplinary institutes to explore the frontiers of knowledge. We have celebrated our location in central New York and extended our reach beyond campus to positively impact our community. We have done all of this together, leading while staying true to Colgate’s mission and traditions.
As I prepare to leave, I spend some time thinking about how I have impacted Colgate but find myself spending more time thinking about how Colgate has impacted me. How can one not be inspired by the Colgate spirit: that smart and fun, driven but grounded way of pursuing one’s chosen passion defines the university’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni. That way of being, that Colgate “DNA,” is what drives the university and draws people with those qualities to campus. That is what drew me here and is what I saw in Provost and Dean of the Faculty Lyle Roelofs when interviewing him five years ago.
As Lyle assumes the role of interim president on June 1, he will bring his love of teaching and learning, his passion for research and exploration, and his great sense of humor and community to bear on his work. Lyle has been an outstanding partner, adviser, and friend to me since he arrived at Colgate in 2004. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership on issues relative to faculty development, the curriculum, information technology, and university finances. I will miss working with him, but it gives me great comfort and confidence to know that he will be leading the way, partnering with a senior staff and Board of Trustees who work tirelessly to ensure that a Colgate education is positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the 21st century.
While this is my last Scene column as Colgate’s president, there will be more time to reflect on the past seven years in the next issue of the magazine. For now, I will close by expressing my deep thanks to all in the Colgate community who welcomed me to this amazing community and now, after seven years of partnership and hard work, have reached out to reflect with me not so much on what we have achieved, but on how we have set the bar even higher.
Up that hill with profound determination. That’s Colgate.