I’m always happy to put these messages together because they’re opportunities to give you a better understanding of what’s on my mind and what I’m working on. Currently, I’m finishing up a trip to the United Kingdom.

Several duties took me “across the pond.” I met with alumni in London, where I also provided my support to the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries on their theater trip. I met with our partners at the University of Rochester Press, Boydell & Brewer. And as I write this, I’m on my way to visit my 90-year-old uncle in Liverpool.

I’ve had some time to decompress a bit, and I’ve been thinking about my evening with alumni. I spent about 15 minutes during the reception talking about Boundless Possibility, the University’s 2030 strategic plan, and how the River Campus Libraries’ strategic plan supports it. My audience spanned the spectrum in terms of age, affiliation with Rochester, and where they were coming from, with individuals hailing from southeast Asia, eastern Europe, and the US. The one thing that united them was their passion for the University and interest in its success, and I know this because they did not hold back when the time came for questions. They asked about common concerns such as the cost of a degree, diversity, and the future of higher education in the US.

Some people might have found this experience challenging and slightly uncomfortable. I relished it for two reasons. First, as I mentioned above, it showed me that they care deeply about the University, making them the exact kind of people I want to talk to. And  second, it provided a somewhat rare opportunity to receive live feedback.

At the libraries, my team and I take pride in being pragmatic and thoughtful about our decision-making. We support that with input and guidance from trusted advisors. Nevertheless, we can’t always be sure our plans will resonate with students, faculty, or even alumni. Feeling the energy in the room and seeing people nodding along as I talked about the libraries' approach to artificial intelligence, our data initiatives, our efforts in special collections and technical services, and what we have planned for signature programs was incredibly meaningful and valuable.

When you’re working hard to realize the ideals of “ever better,” sometimes a nod is all you need to know you’re on the right path.

I’m looking forward to being back at Rochester and making progress on our plans.


Kevin Garewal
Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean
University of Rochester Libraries