I served as the minister at the wedding of the daughter of some of my dearest friends a few years ago. I wore a simple silver chain with an acorn charm around my neck that the mother of the bride had given me. I wore it that day to let her know that I appreciated her gift and recognized the effort she made in giving it to me and how it connected us. My conscious effort in choosing and wearing it was yet another way of saying thank you and was not lost on the mother of the bride.
As department head I say thank you a lot. What we do as a department is the sum of what we do as individuals. As the leader of the department I am now helping to steer our vision and efforts to a common success, but the success of the department is made up of our unique contributions. Although I would like to say thank you for each of these contributions, I realize that I am only aware of a small fraction of what you do to enhance the success of those around you. This year Jean-Philippe and I hosted an Autumn Open House specifically to thank faculty, staff, emeriti, and retirees for what they are doing and have done to make this department a success and a wonderful place to live and work. It is another way for me to recognize the larger impact of what you do daily and let you know that I consciously appreciate your efforts.
This year I would have many more thank you cards to write if I were to acknowledge the numerous times individuals with the best motives for the department, made significant efforts to steer me in the right direction as I learned the ropes. I hope that I have made you feel that I was listening to your comments even if broader departmental or university concerns kept me from acting on them in the way you might have liked.
One thing that Marianne has been helping me with this week is sending letters to those who took the time and invested their psychic energy in applying for the positions we recruited this year. Many qualified applicants put their skills forward with the desire to join our department. Although most searches don’t send acknowledgements of receipt of the applications and final thank you notes, we have done both because I truly hope our department is different and that we take the time to recognize and appreciate the efforts of others.
If you have the chance this week, let someone in the department know that you appreciate the work they do on the behalf of others. As we move into the heart of the semester it is a good time to note our thanks.