I’m going to be perfectly candid. After the horrific shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde last month, I really struggled to write this message. How do I talk about the future of our libraries, when I’m more concerned about the future of this country?
Thinking about our recent graduates helped restore the hope that was temporarily replaced with despair. So, in the interest of not letting hate and senseless violence win, I’m going to talk about my experience at Commencement.
Being in Fauver Stadium among our students was exciting and energizing. And it was especially moving to see parents, family members, and friends embrace their graduates—moments that carry so much more weight given the recent tragedies. It brought me solace to be on stage and have a sea of potential in front of me and hear the inspirational words of our speakers. I remember thinking, “These students are going to help make the world a better place.”
Knowing that the libraries played some role in every graduate’s University of Rochester story not only makes me proud to represent the libraries, but it also stresses the libraries’ responsibility to the University community as well as the Greater Rochester area and the world beyond.
During Commencement I was also reminded of something my mother always told me. She would say, “At the end of the day, it does not matter what you have done; the most important thing is to be a decent and good person.” Given all we cannot control, this seems like the least we can do.
I intend to stay positive by focusing on the spirit of Meliora and trying to be ever better—personally and professionally. And based on what I’ve learned in the last four months, everyone within the libraries will be moving forward with a similar mindset.
Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean
University of Rochester Libraries