I am humbled by the kindness and generosity I have received since announcing my retirement last August, though I must say it has been a very long goodbye. Now, here I am on the cover of BSU magazine, the subject of an article that seeks to summarize my 2,190-day presidency in 1,800 words. I realize history is likely to record these past six years in terms of decisions made and objectives achieved. But let me assure you that those things are not what I will remember most about my time at Bemidji State — or, for that matter, all of my years in higher education.
What I will never forget is what I glimpsed one last time on May 6: the beaming faces of our graduates as they stepped onto the commencement stage to be recognized and accept congratulations. Their proud smiles exuded all they had gained from years of study, both a degree of mastery in their chosen fields and a readiness to engage with the world — to make it better while making it their own. Their newfound confidence will forever be a source of satisfaction, for I had the chance to contribute to their success.
As graduates, you surely remember that exhilarating relief when you crossed the stage, shook hands and stepped down at the other end. As parents, we are at once joyful and wistful as we watch our children complete this ritual, signifying as it does both a beginning and an ending in life’s journey. I find that retirement has something in common with both experiences. I am both graduate and parent, stepping into a future full of possibility while stepping down from my role in the fortunes of a great university.
Thanks to a capable new president, dedicated employees and loyal friends, Bemidji State University will be in very good hands. I will always carry with me the things we’ve accomplished together, for our students and for their future.