Geoffrey S. Mearns
Fall 2020 Convocation Remarks
Friday, August 21, 2020, 9 a.m.
Emens Auditorium

‘It is a privilege to serve you’

This year, I begin my fourth academic year as the president of Ball State University. Today, and every day, it is a privilege to serve you.

At our Convocation last August, I described how impressed I was with the impact of your work. I shared how inspired I am by your many contributions, which are leading us to our bright future.

For nine months—from last July through early March—that momentum continued, and I am going to talk about that progress in a moment.

But then we confronted two extraordinary challenges: the global pandemic, and the civil unrest in our country that has demonstrated an urgent need for us to accelerate our efforts to create a campus, a community, and a country that are more equitable and more just.

It is important for me to discuss these two pressing issues as well.

‘A new version of academic life’

Never in our history has a situation been more challenging than this current pandemic. I know that, both professionally and personally, this pandemic has caused you to endure many disappointments and losses. And I know that the ongoing uncertainty begets anxiety.

Despite these disappointments and that anxiety, I have been impressed—and gratified—to witness the many ways in which the members of our University community have adjusted to a new version of academic life, one that’s been reshaped by COVID-19.

‘Let us be there for each other’

This year, our support for one another is going to look a bit different.

It will be different, because we must maintain physical distance. And we must wear masks that hide our smiles and our expressions of empathy.

We can’t shake hands right now—or give hugs. We can’t rely on many of the traditional ways in which we forge a physical connection that demonstrates our interdependency as human beings.

And yet, because of this pandemic, we have come to realize that we are increasingly dependent on each other for our safety, for our health, and for our personal wellbeing.

So, as we steel ourselves for the uncertainties that lie ahead, let us soften our hearts.

Let us be there for each other as colleagues and as friends.