together again

The “entire faculty” did not show up for our Fall Faculty meeting  yesterday morning, not even close.

But those of us who did, and who endured all the disingenuous platitudes about “this great institution” and our “wonderful university” etc., ad nauseum, were finally treated to a couple of moments I, at least, found to be well worth waiting for.

First, the President shared a quote from the Sultan of Swat about the value of teamwork. It doesn’t matter how many stars are on your roster, the Babe once sagely (allegedly) observed, they won’t succeed if they don’t play well together.

I loved the cornball oddity of our leader’s appeal to a hall full of Ph.D’s with deep insight from an undereducated old athlete. (This on the heels of reassuring us that our Blue Raiders are scholar-athletes all.) But of course it happens to be true, no matter who did or didn’t say it.

Then, the real highlight: the annual award to a distinguished elder statesman of our tribe, for a lifetime of service and scholarship. This year it went to a chemistry professor-emeritus who became very emotional recalling 9.11.01, when he found himself in Hiroshima, Japan at an academic conference attended primarily by Japanese, German, and Russian scholars. The clear message, once again: it is crucial, and very possible, for us all to work together– that word again. Hiroshima has rebounded and is today a beautiful modern city, he said, showing how resilient humans can be. Not a natural admission for a Scandinavian like himself, he said, but born out in his long experience.

There was also a very nice tribute from the President to Dean McDaniel, who probably knew more about getting disparate egos to pull effectively together than any of us. His absence was keenly felt in the hall, in the deficit of intelligent wit and humanity we always counted on him to plug.

So, the team still on the field is just going to have to suck it up and leave it all out there.

If that’s not enough sports metaphor for you, tomorrow’s convocation speaker is the author of Outcasts United, about a diverse soccer team of refugees in a small Georgia town learning to play well together. Teamwork and resilience. Got it?

I hope a few of us will make the effort to be there. 90% of success– or is it 110?– is just showing up. Which, presumably, we’ll all do whether we feel like being there or not, on Monday. Opening Day, finally.

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