A heart-felt THANK YOU to our campus community:
While we have all looked back on the past 12 months and counted the myriad challenges we've encountered, we sometimes fail to realize how much we have learned about ourselves and one another. Together, we have experienced the worst pandemic in the past 100 years, seen unprecedented economic constraints, navigated widespread social unrest, prepared for a near-miss hurricane and, most recently, dealt with two once-in-a-lifetime winter weather events and the resulting damages, power outages, and gas and water shortages. During this time, we have navigated through the obstacles, stepped up to help one another and still managed our day-to-day lives. I can tell you we are strong, Lumberjack Strong!
Words cannot express how thankful I am for the people who are part of our Lumberjack Team. They focus on our health, safety and well-being and keep our university and community strong. I can't possibly mention each and every individual, office or unit, but please know you are all deeply appreciated. As I reflect on some of what I have seen firsthand in the past 12 months, I recall a multitude of ways we all can be proud of our Lumberjack Nation.
Just this week, in the midst of back-to-back winter storms, I have witnessed:
- Faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond every single day to reassure students and assist them in and out of the classroom to help them achieve success.
- Students who help one another through difficult situations, from a tough class or a ride to the grocery store, to helping one another keep spirits up and working together to stay warm during the latest winter storms.
- Dedicated University Police Department (UPD) officers who work tirelessly to keep our students, faculty and staff safe, working to harness all resources for our students, loading/unloading water and other supplies for students around campus, and being on-call any time, day or night.
- Physical Plant Department (PPD) employees making sure we have buildings open, heated, cleaned and dry while working to keep campus safe, ice-free and clear of fallen trees, branches and other debris. Most recently, they found innovative ways to flush toilets in the residence halls, fixed countless leaks and repaired many broken water and gas lines so we could get back to teaching and learning.
- Almost 100 SFA student athletes and coaches volunteering their time, strength and physical fitness to assist PPD with campus cleanup so we will be ready to begin classes on our beautiful campus.
- Faculty, staff and students working day and night to keep hundreds of livestock, swine, chickens and other animals warm, fed, watered and alive at the Walter Todd Agricultural Research Center.
- The Aramark food service employees, who found a way to get to campus during dangerous conditions of cold, ice and snow, making sure our students and essential workers were fed hot meals.
- Student Affairs and housing personnel working around the clock to check on residents, make sure phones were staffed to answer questions from parents and students, and open warming stations for students who needed them.
- A campus that housed hundreds of out-of-state linemen who came to town in order to get our campus, Nacogdoches and East Texas back to business.
- A local distributor who donated pallets of water so our students would be well hydrated without having to boil their drinking water.
The list could go on and on, but this gives you a small glimpse into our tremendous community. If there is one thing we have learned during these past 12 difficult months, it is that we have grit, grace and gratitude.
- The grit to face adversity and bounce back in order to reach goals, to work through difficult situations, continue in our work or studies, and to help others.
- The grace to appreciate one another, learn from one another and lend a hand when someone needs your help.
- The gratitude to thank the many people working hard to make our time at SFA safe, productive, satisfying and memorable.
I encourage you to reach out and say thank you to those who have been there for us, helped us get through these past 12 months and who will undoubtedly be there for us again when needed. We are all part of a very special place here in the Piney Woods….. Lumberjack Nation is strong!
Stay safe and Axe 'em!
Dr. Scott Gordon