February 27, 2009
2009 Issue 8 

A Time for Optimism

University determined to overcome the challenges which lie ahead

President Jon E. Quistgaard

Like many of you, I listened to President Obama's economic speech to the nation this week. His declaration that we can -- and we will -- find our way beyond these turbulent times and emerge as a more united, stronger nation was uplifting.
In particular he noted, "The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities, in our fields and factories, in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. What is required now is for the country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face and take responsibility for our future once more."
President Obama's optimism stems from the historical resiliency of the American people to forge ahead, find new solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges and emerge stronger than before.
The more I reflected on his message, the more I could see the transference of his ideas to Bemidji State University. While our scope is smaller, our reality is no less vivid than the one at the national scene. The challenges we have faced together over the past eight years have been many. Indications are that the road ahead will remain bumpy and uncertain.
From my interactions with faculty, staff and students, I sense the anxiety of this uncertainty. Yet, I also detect a genuine resolve in meeting the University's mission in a spirit much like the one President Obama ascribed to the American people.
Winston Churchill once said, "A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity and an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty."
Yes, we have challenges, and we may not all agree on the solutions that will be proposed to meet them. However, with the wealth of human capital at Bemidji State, we will use our creativity, resourcefulness and good old fashion smarts to come through these difficult times strong.
This campus community, along with our growing number of friends, is persistent. We exhibit a steadfast determination and unwavering commitment to making a difference, regardless of role and responsibility. Our inventiveness has enabled us to develop new programs, build new buildings, attract and maintain a talented group of faculty and staff, and draw a diversity of students.
As the effects of the shifting global economy persist, Bemidji State, like colleges and universities across the country, must confront its fiscal realities.
While we focus on these demands, let us not forget to celebrate our successes. These achievements not only bring us pride, but also shed light on the possibility of a brighter tomorrow -- one that is grounded in collaboration, focus, determination and a shared vision for the future. Ours is a vision that continues to shape the potential of our students, so they may, in turn, shape the world.
Taking our cue from Winston Churchill, we must remain optimistic about the future and our aspirations for the University.
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