I’ll keep this short and sweet because it’s hard to write. I’ll be honest, I sat down to write a couple times before I teared up and had to stop.
Four years ago during Candidates’ Weekend, I caught a glimpse of Olin’s close, supportive community. Two weeks ago, I was reminded of it again. In a difficult time of rapid change and transition, we all came together.
Faculty and staff worked quickly to keep our campus safe and make the transition a smooth one. End-of-the-year concerts and events were organized and held in a matter of days. On Thursday, seniors who were suddenly unsure of when our graduation would be were met with a ceremony as wonderful, if not more, than the one planned for May.
Take it not just from me but from these anonymous messages of thanks as well:
“Big thanks to all of the teams that have scrambled to support Olin’s rapid changes over the past week, including facilities, dining, IT, student affairs, etc.”
“To Mark and the rest of the Academic Life leadership team: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the tone you’ve set for our AL meetings: the caring, the pragmatism, the openness. We’re so lucky to have you!”
“Thank you to everyone who helped pull [Fauxmencement] together. Thank you to everyone who set up the event, to everyone who made hats and tassels, to everyone who wrote kind messages in chalk and made the sea of bubbles to walk through. Thanks to all the speakers for pulling something together last minute. Every bit of it was beautiful, because it came from the love and care of the community. I almost hope we don’t have a real commencement — there’s no way it could be better than what you made it.”
“Thank you to those involved with the Presidential Search. An extra big thank you to Anupama Krishnan and Niyi Owolabi for committing their time to it. I am extremely excited for the positive changes a new president may bring to us in light of all that is happening currently. So thank you to those that made this happen and to our President-Elect Dr. Gilda Barabino for committing to Olin. An extra thank you to Anusha Datar for hosting a Zoom call to experience this event together as well.”
“Thank you to all the students, staff, faculty, (everyone really) for putting together those last events to send us home properly. It really felt like a proper good-bye. Thank you to all of those who have made events to stay together and have provided ways that we can. I am grateful to have the opportunity now to have better means to interact with the students who were away as we stay together. Your efforts have reminded me of why I chose Olin and why I am so grateful that I did. To the seniors, I will miss you all and I am thankful for the part you played and will continue to play in my life. You have made it all the better.”
Even now, in the awkward move to online classes, you all have shown that Olin’s community can never be contained to just five (and a half) buildings.