Every morning, my eyes find the Chinese evergreen that is sitting under a grow light in my kitchen. It belonged to my great-grandfather on my mother’s side, who passed it on to my mother, and three years ago, it came to me. My best guess is that it’s closing in on 65 years old, which is far from the oldest plant, but plenty old for my family.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen this plant wither (I wasn’t good at taking care of it at first), grow, and thrive (I got better). When I look at it, I think about my mom. I think about my family and all the things they have taught me—humility, open-mindedness, flexibility, and ultimately, the importance of perseverance and growth.

Early next year, I will split my plant, giving pieces to my sister and a trusted friend (one with a green thumb). I’m doing this to ensure not only that it survives, but also that it can continue to serve as a symbol for something more. And I know that, for many of you reading this, the libraries serve as a similar kind of symbol. That’s why sometimes, as I’m waiting on my coffee, looking at my plant (starting to think I should name it), I think about the libraries.

I think about how important it is that we maintain high standards and constantly strive for excellence. Because even if you’re not someone who is currently benefiting from our spaces, programs, services, or collections, you may be cherishing a memory that includes them.  

So, this year, I’m not going to share a list of accomplishments in this message. I’m very proud of what we’ve done and the many other ways in which we’ve contributed to and provided support for the learning, teaching, and research that occurred at Rochester this year. (We’ll be sharing a publication that lists them in detail.) Instead, right now, I simply want to acknowledge the staff.

Every day, the libraries staff bring everything they have to the job to provide an “ever better” experience for our students, faculty, and community. They humble and inspire me. And they are why the libraries continue to grow and thrive. 


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

With that, on behalf of the staff—and my plant—I wish you a wonderful holiday season and an abundance of health and happiness in the coming year.