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Campus News

Hitchcock’s Remarks at Farewell Reception

Editor’s note: Outgoing President Hitchcock first responded to and thanked each of the speakers on the program. Her formal remarks follow.

Thank you all. Those two words... ‘thank you’...I’ll be using them a lot in the next few minutes — so, please, bear with me!

Today’s program reminds me so much of my inaugural dinner – held in this very room – some eight years ago. Dear colleagues and friends were there with me and my family, and they spoke of our shared expectations and hopes for the future. And like that day eight years ago, the two people who mean the most to me are here today. First, my mother, Ruth Hitchcock. How can I even thank her for a lifetime of love and support? She was 80 eight years ago, she’s an even younger 88 today. And, first, last, and always, my husband, Murray Blair. Friend, confidante, supporter…he has done so much – and sacrificed so much – for me over the years. And, he has done so much for this University as well…would you please join me in thanking him?

Yes, on that day eight years ago, so many people were there to wish me well, to pledge their support and, yes, to tease me more than a little bit. I still remember vividly the group of volunteer – and conscripted - dinner attendees who sang Vinny Reda’s stirring rendition of “She is the Very Model of a Modern College President” to the tune of “He is the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.

To paraphrase a bit – let me speak for a moment about a truly “Model University”…

  • A University where a vision for excellence is shared and animates all that is done.
  • A University where intellectual diversity is valued and encouraged and enriches faculty and students alike.
  • A University where the intellectual rigor fundamental to expanding knowledge…to discovery… pervades the entire organization – from the research and scholarship of the faculty to the learning environment of the students, to the mission-critical services provided by a dedicated staff.
  • A University where each member of the community, regardless of position or title, contributes in full measure and receives the respect and gratitude such dedication deserves.
  • A University where geographic boundaries are transparent…where the institution’s reach encompasses its region, state, the nation, and the global community. A place unabashedly proud of its commitment to service; a place where service is not a single – often shaky – leg of a “three-legged stool” – but rather flows naturally from the University’s core missions of research and teaching.
  • And, finally, a University where all members of the academic community – faculty, students, staff, and alumni — care deeply about the future of the institution, respect the unique talents and accomplishments of their colleagues, and take seriously their role as stewards of the legacy of the institution – a legacy shaped, nurtured, and enriched by all who have been a part of it since its founding.

Over the past 13 years, first as Vice President for Academic Affairs, then as Interim President and since 1996, as President, I have been privileged to serve at just such a “Model University,” and with just such “Model Colleagues.”

We have done much together over the years – we’ve seen our student body grow in size and quality and our graduates continue to excel as citizens of a now truly global community. We have seen new academic programs developed by our faculty which have greatly enriched the learning environment. We have brought the University we love into closer partnership with our region, our state, our nation, and our world. We have seen the impact of our programs of research and teaching increase as we have reached beyond our borders to embrace our various communities …to address complex societal issues and enrich individual lives. We have, together with our many government and private sector partners, changed the face of our University with major new facilities…from residence halls to libraries to state-of-the-art science and fine arts facilities. Yes, even a new campus.

But, perhaps most important of all, we have been true to our mission of discovery and learning in service to society, even as we have planned and acted strategically and boldly. We have “thought anew” and, more important, “acted anew” to preserve and enrich the legacy of the University entrusted to us. And this University we all love is defined by you – each and every member of the UAlbany family. And how privileged I have been to be part of that family for the past 13 years.

I have come to know so many students…students who have grown, not only in knowledge, but also in their sense of civic responsibility.

I have been honored to work with faculty who are devoting their lives not only to creating an unparalleled environment for learning for our students, but also to constantly expanding the boundaries of knowledge within and across their disciplines.

I have been blessed with staff and colleagues who are committed to creating an environment in which we can all thrive. I have seen how all of you – faculty, staff, and students alike – constantly reach out to assure that new knowledge and our rich learning environment benefit all whom we serve. Yes, I have been privileged – and honored – to serve with you over the years. You have accomplished – and will continue to accomplish – so much; you will continue to enrich this University beyond measure.

Just as you have enriched me beyond measure. We have been through a lot together…good times and more difficult times. From the celebration of new resources and facilities, to financial challenges which tested our ingenuity and sense of common purpose. From moments of shared pride in new programs and innovative academic initiatives, to the shared grief and mourning of 9/11. From the camaraderie of our spring cleanups and our wonderful new commencement celebrations, to meeting and overcoming the challenges and anxieties created by change. From the thrill of being named one of our nation’s top 17 public universities for our faculty’s scholarly accomplishments, to the year we had to endure our top party school ranking. (The latter ranking, of course, totally undeserved…!)

Yes, we have been through a lot together. And how can I ever thank you – each and every one of you – for all you have done to support me…to encourage me over the years. You have made the good times more meaningful and the difficult times more bearable. You have been there for me, and I will be forever grateful.

And, despite the billing for this party, I am not saying farewell. Wherever Murray and I go, UAlbany and all of you will always be in my thoughts and in my heart. The many deep personal friendships we’ve made will endure. And I will watch with joy as UAlbany continues to grow in quality and stature over the years ahead. Thanks to all of you, the future of this exceptional place is secure and bright.

But, do know that I will miss you all more than I can ever say.

Again, for 13 matchless years – thank you, and godspeed.