Some thoughts to mull over winter break

As you prepare to leave Northfield for a well-deserved winter break, I want to take this opportunity to point out a few semester highlights and proud moments in our history. In August we opened the brand new West Hall civilian dorm on Upper Disney, and in September, we launched the five-year countdown to our Bicentennial and kicked off our Year of Service.

Amid the most spectacular foliage season in recent memory, several of our fall sports teams battled their way to the top (or near the top) of their conferences. In November, Norwich was re-designated as a Center for Excellence in Digital Forensics Education, and Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.) was our featured fall Todd Series Lecturer. Just last week, we hosted renowned Macedonia jazz guitarist Vladimir Četkar for a musical performance in Dole Auditorium.
Unfortunately, not everything that happened this fall was cause for celebration. Our excitement over the above events was tempered by others that ranged from the unfortunate to the tragic. These included cyber-bullying, reported assaults, and the death of a student by his own hand.
One of my challenges as a university president is keeping things in perspective and not allowing the negatives to overshadow the positives. I firmly believe Norwich is, at its core, a community of caring individuals who support each other and hold each other accountable to a common standard of ethical behavior. This standard was established by our founder, Captain Alden Partridge, and is enforced by our guiding values. However, people are only human, and humans make mistakes. The upside of these transgressions is that they provide opportunity for growth.
As I have often said, students do not ar rive at Norwich as fully formed adults, but rather, while their characters are still being developed. Your undergraduate years should be spent refining your character, so that by the time you leave here, you are ready to enter civilian or military service with honor and integrity. These two qualities are the hallmark of all Norwich graduates, and will serve you unfailingly throughout your career, regardless of which path you choose.
Life can be viewed as a series of opportunities and decisions that ultimately determine not only your own wellbeing, but also that of the people around you. Imagine how different our nation would be if everyone had the advantage of an education that produced “moral, patriotic, efficient and useful citizens.” Choosing Norwich was a wise decision. Make it just the first of many.
I wish you all a wonderful holiday break! I’ll see you in the New Year!

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