Dear City College Community,
"My thanksgiving is perpetual." -Henry David Thoreau
Even today, the City College landscape in my mind’s eye is filled with all of you—students, staff, and faculty working as we have for generations to change society by changing lives. It’s a heartening image, something to buoy the spirit against the reality of buildings that still stand mostly empty, leaves drifting uninterrupted by-passing feet or groups lingering in conversation. This is a moment, each year when the ancestral memory of harvest and the impulse to celebrate before winter’s dark sets fully nudges us to gather and give thanks. And I know that in this dangerous year, it may be difficult to conjure that season fully to life, but I write to urge you past that.
In hard times, the wise among us revisit the wellspring of our hope. We have, without doubt, lost so much over the past year. Some members of our community will never return to campus, and others find the ties that hold us together strained almost to the breaking point. Even the most fortunate among us, I know, since their reserves of optimism running at an ebb. But these times also call us to do great things—to serve those in need, to bend our energy to the construction of a better society, and to make sure that when the story of these days is finally written, we will be proud of the part we came to play.
I am thankful for each of you, thankful that together, we are the City College of New York. Speaking personally, the wellspring of my hope is this place and the work we do here together. The people of City College have for generations found themselves on this campus united in the belief that the quest for a just society is undertaken generation by generation, and we play our part on this hill. The path to a better life, and a more stable and fair post-pandemic society, runs through CCNY and we dare not but rise to the challenge. I say that with no illusions about the hardships that we have still to face together, but secure in the faith that I have in each one of you, and in our community.
I hope each of you finds a good way to celebrate thanksgiving; that you keep yourself safe and guard the health of those around you; that you reflect on where we stand and what we must do; that you will hold your loved ones in your heart even if you can’t hold them in your arms. And, I hope that you will think about the great opportunity we face to do something important at a time of great need, to preserve the things we love and correct the things we cannot abide and set about the construction of a better place.