I want to thank alumni for the honour of serving you for the last two years. My term expires in May, so this is my last message in these pages.
It has been rewarding, challenging and enjoyable. The association’s board of directors has provided wonderful leadership and incredible support. Also, my thanks to the UVic Alumni Services staff who do such an outstanding job. I want to acknowledge, too, the support shown to me by the university’s senior administration, the deans, faculty and staff.
Among the highlights for me has been our effort to create a special place on campus dedicated to alumni. I’m pleased to report that the “University of Victoria Alumni Garry Oak Meadow” (between Finnerty Gardens and Cedar Hill X Road) has been formally approved. This lasting recognition of alumni and their contributions to the university is hugely important. I want to thank the facilities management group for their assistance.
As I was writing this, I thought about how much it has meant to me to volunteer with the alumni association. It led me to think about an early experience I had had shortly after I graduated from the Faculty of Education and was teaching high school English. A former student asked if we could talk about an assignment she was having trouble with in her first-year English course at UVic.
Anne was to review and report on two poems. Her problem was that her instincts told her that one was superior to the other, but the inferior one seemed to be much more “serious.” The other poem was more whimsical: “The Naming of Cats” from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. As we talked, Anne saw that both poems, in their different ways, dealt with the same theme: what in our lives has meaning and value?
Eliot’s poem said we need to name our cats carefully, to view their true nature and to assess their character. But he also drew parallels between feline and human life. He was really saying that we need to look closely at our daily lives and focus on the quality we find in our experiences.
In that light, it occurred to me that my role with the alumni association over the past few years has underscored what Eliot was talking about: my involvement with alumni has become one of the things in my life that I truly value. It has given me a sense of completion after the profound experiences of my earlier university days.
I hope that each of our alumni will maintain a connection with the university through our alumni association. And, as time and circumstances permit, that connection grows into active involvement, even if for only a brief time. It’s worth it. After all, our common experience as students at UVic is like having one of Eliot’s “practical” cats in our lives.
My best wishes to you all.
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