College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday, June 30, 2020:
Dear Campus Community:
What a year.
Three little words, but they convey so much. It has been quite a year of incredible highs and, unfortunately, as the last few weeks have demonstrated, some definite lows for all of us.
For me personally, my “freshman” year at the College of Charleston has been nothing short of remarkable. As many of you know, I am a proud lifelong student. I love to learn. And I have found that the people of the College are kindred spirits in their desire to push themselves and to meet every day as a new possibility for gaining new knowledge. I am consistently amazed and inspired to see everyone on campus truly fulfilling the College’s motto (“Wisdom Itself Is Liberty”) in their own daily lives, both professionally and personally.
I want to thank everyone – students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends of the College – for being so welcoming to my family and me. Charleston and its people justly deserve their reputation for hospitality and kindness.
I know I could probably write a book right here in this message about my experience and lessons learned this past year (FYI, June 30th is the last day of our 2019–20 fiscal year), but I will try to be brief. As you might guess, there are too many moments from this past year to mention, too many moments that are worthy of continued reflection and celebration, but let me remind us of just a few.
Naturally, the 2019–20 academic year was historic year, as we began celebrating the 250th anniversary. CofC Day was a fantastic opportunity for engagement, from the unveiling of a historic marker, the awarding of three Founders’ Medal, the party in the Cistern Yard and the record-setting day of giving. Once things begin to return to some sort of normal, we will continue our commemoration of the 250th.
The strategic planning process, which kicked off in earnest last summer, continued throughout the school year. The discussions held on campus about our institution’s mission, vision, values and priorities were productive and showcased to me the depth of emotion and breadth of knowledge here on campus. What I took away from this exercise were many lessons, but one simple truth: that College of Charleston people care. They care about this institution, they care about our students, they care about each other, they care about our greater community and they care about putting the College of Charleston on a larger stage so that the rest of the world can see the amazing work taking place here – the history being made right here by our students, faculty and staff (that was a not-too-subtle nod to our 250th celebration!).
I also want to take a moment to thank three campus members within the College of Charleston community that stepped into more visible leadership roles this past year and made my transition as easy as possible. In business affairs, Ed Pope, our vice president of human resources (serving as the interim executive vice president of business affairs), and Dawn Willan, our controller (serving as interim chief financial officer), both did an excellent job in these very demanding roles and provided great counsel to me. I appreciate them and their teams humoring all my questions about budgeting and finances.
On the academic side, Fran Welch, dean of the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance, did a marvelous job serving as the interim provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. Fran is a tireless worker and a great leader. Her calm demeanor and steady hand have been critical in a year that has wrought so much expected and unexpected change. Her leadership on campus this past year has been nothing short of amazing.
In closing, I want to thank the entire Cougar community for working so hard in such hard times. Together, we have shown incredible resilience at every level of the institution. As I think back on this year, I see how smart and strong our student body is. I see how dedicated and hard-working our faculty and staff are. I see how devoted to their alma mater our Board of Trustees members are. I see how invested and committed our volunteer boards – the Foundation Board, the Alumni Association, the Cougar Club and the many advisory boards across campus – are. And I see how our alumni and friends of the College are always willing to step forward to help and to push this institution to be the best version of itself. I see all of that passion, and I am so proud.
This university is great because of its people. I am deeply honored to have joined this community and to have been given the opportunity to play a role in its success.
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston