Good evening. I’m very happy to welcome back the faculty and staff and to extend a warm welcome to all of our new colleagues.  I imagine, like me, you are eager to begin a new semester, so full of promise and possibilities.

On behalf of the faculty, I’m equally happy to welcome transfer students, graduate students, and the class of 2018.  We are so excited that you’ve joined this community of learning.

I have a son in college and he bristles whenever someone asks him what he’s studying because the follow up question is always: What are you going to do with that?  The question bothers him for two reasons:  first, because he loves what he’s learning, and doesn’t think it needs to be justified.  Second, even though he is a senior this year, he’s still not ready to answer the question. But every year he moves closer to who he is meant to be. And really, that’s all any of us can do.

So how do you move closer to the person you are meant to be? No doubt, there are a lot of ways to answer that question, but surely three keys to becoming your best self are to: cultivate curiosity, develop your talents, and create good habits.

Cultivating curiosity is at the top of my list because it is essential for developing a deep understanding of the world and your place in it. You are privileged to be at Bucknell where you will encounter diverse subjects of study and interesting people with a diversity of perspectives. Resist the temptation to write something off as boring or someone else’s idea as wrong, or to inhibit your curiosity by worrying about what you’re going to do with your course of study. Personal growth is only possible by remaining open to new experiences, new ideas, and different perspectives. Allow yourself to be adventurously curious.  Allow yourself to fall in love with your studies.  

You do not come to Bucknell as a blank slate. You come with your own set of interests and perspectives, strengths and, yes, weaknesses. Which brings me to my second key to becoming who you are meant to be: Identify and develop your particular set of talents. Focusing on your strengths and developing your talents will help you find what you love and love what you do.

Cultivating curiosity and honing your talents are necessary to becoming your best self, but one more thing is needed:  creating good habits. I speak from experience when I say that this can be a tough one. There are so many distractions competing for our time and pulling us in a hundred different directions. That’s precisely why good habits are so important. The task before all of us is to figure out the habits that serve us best. For me, these include exercising at the same time every day, and turning off social media when I am working. Although the cultivation of good habits takes some work in the beginning, once they are established they provide order to your day and to your life and promote the self-discipline essential to becoming who you are meant to be.

We faculty are here to both challenge and support you.  We want to share with you our love for what we teach in the hope that you’ll come to love it too.  In turn, we are eager to be inspired by your curious minds and awed by your talents.  It is with a sense of joyful anticipation that we look forward to many conversations with you in the years ahead.

Welcome to Bucknell.