This is a joyous time of year for many of us, spending time with our families and friends, and looking forward to the year ahead. But it is important to recognize that this is not true for everyone. For too many among us, the Christmas season is lonely and painful, and the anticipation of a new year does not bring renewed hope but a heightened sense of loss. I am mindful of the many sympathy cards that we have sent to members of the URI community and to others in Rhode Island this year. Many years after both of my parents have passed, their loss quietly reverberates throughout the holiday season. It is likely that for many their more recent losses are far more keenly felt. In addition, for many individuals and families in our state and across America, the recession has struck with particular brutality – damaging, if not destroying hope, and diminishing, if not obliterating, the joy of the season.
One of the many things for which I am thankful is that the University of Rhode Island is a caring and generous community. From the students (the recent $11,000 check from the fraternities and sororities to Habitat for Humanity is a great example) to the faculty and staff, and in more ways than are readily counted, ours is a community that seeks to help and serve those who need assistance, comforting, and the reassurance that they are valued, and even loved. Our community at URI is far from what it needs to be, but building a better and stronger community is one of our highest priorities, and I believe we are making good progress. I hope, for the benefit of all, that we can build upon the progress we have already made, and strengthen our efforts as we go forward in 2011. Let us commit ourselves in the year ahead to restoring hope where it has been lost, and bringing joy where it was missed. Best wishes for the New Year!