Few events at our University make me happier than the Convocation and white coat ceremonies that open each academic year. Our new students are welcomed to the WesternU family as part of a big celebration, and don the white coats that mark their commitment to becoming health professionals. It’s a time of energy, excitement and enthusiasm, when all of us – students, faculty, staff – look with clear eyes and full hearts upon the landscape of a coming year, wondering what adventures lie ahead.
As you know, the very first Convocation and white coat ceremony that took place on our campus was solely for the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, because that’s all we were at the time – one college. The ensuing years have seen much growth and greater ceremony for these events as we have added colleges and ever more students, but I have always made a point of attending the white coat ceremony for COMP each year, to remind myself how the enterprise now known as Western University of Health Sciences all began.
I was there again this year when several years’ worth of COMP graduates who have remained with, or returned to, the WesternU family as faculty rose and saluted my tenure as president. The gesture would have profoundly moved even the most stoic of men — and stoic, I am not. Through the powerful emotions, I was again reminded of how the longest of journeys begins with one step, how majestic oaks spring from the smallest of acorns, and how those once taught so often become teachers themselves. Our story at COMP and WesternU has unfolded in much the same way.
Harriet and I are pleased and privileged to have been part of that story from the beginning, witnesses to every challenge, every disappointment, every celebration, every triumph. We have been blessed to be surrounded by countless comrades in arms who have understood the special nature of this place and its foundation in humanism and compassionate care, and who have in turn surrounded themselves with others not only of like disposition, but also armed with skills that have expanded and improved the University. WesternU has been especially fortunate to be home to generation after generation of students who, at their core, seek no less than to heal humanity and make a better world.
I do not remember a day when all of those things, and so many more, were not ample reason to rise, greet the new day, and welcome another opportunity to get it right. You, I, and WesternU will have many more such days, for we will not cease in our quest to discover what lies on the other side of the mountain, and how we can be of highest and best use to our fellows.
My vantage point on the journey will change after Tuesday, September 8, which is my last day as president of our University. In my new role as President Emeritus, I will continue to advocate for our University, offer counsel when it is sought, and support our immensely capable interim president and all members of the WesternU family.
New adventures await. I’m excited to be embarking on them, and am grateful to you all — and to countless others – for the many memories we’ve made together, the successes we’ve shared, and the rich promise WesternU’s future holds.
It’s been an honor.
My best to you all,