If we always live our lives in the moment, the past becomes just a large, undefined mass. As the semester winds down, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on its defining events and characteristics, so that it won’t just blend in with all the others.
It’s easy to see this semester as the end of an era. Now that President Donna E. Shalala is stepping down, the next few months will orient themselves toward the selection of her successor.
Whichever qualified individual the Presidential Search Committee will no doubt appoint, he or she will never be Shalala – the character of the University of Miami is bound to shift somehow.
But nothing ever ends without prompting a new beginning. Even now, the campus landscape is in flux and will continue to change, like a caterpillar hidden in a cocoon, when we leave for the holidays.
Already this semester, the old wooden buildings behind the Knight Physics Building, which once served as the school’s first administration center, house departments from the College of Arts and Sciences; now, in 2015, Frost Studios will be completed, providing physical support for the idea that the university will never stop striving to improve.
Indeed, UM’s ability to develop and adapt to the times was well proven this semester.
With its coordinated and professional response to the Ebola crisis, faculty and staff were able to educate the campus about the disease as well as to assuage its accompanying paranoia.
The coalition on sexual assault and the school’s recent Black Lives Matter demonstration reinforce the idea that UM has not hidden from pressing national issues, but rather stepped forward and engaged them.
The appointment of new leadership will ultimately not affect the qualities that define UM. Presidents come and go, and the campus landscape may shift, but these outward adaptations only aim to protect UM’s fundamental character from damage by enabling it to keep up with, rather than be dragged along by, the turning tides of time.
As we’ve seen this semester, that fundamental quality is the university’s commitment to participation in the national conversation.
Students, staff and faculty alike can rest assured that as we move into the next semester, we will continue to flex, grow and push boundaries, but always in dialogue, and never while sacrificing what is truly important.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.