at Farewell Reception
Editor’s note: Outgoing President
Hitchcock first responded to and thanked each
of the speakers on the program. Her formal remarks
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!
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?
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
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
- 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.”
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
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
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…!)
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
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
But, do know that I will miss you all more than
I can ever say.
Again, for 13 matchless years – thank you, and