Greetings and my warmest welcome! I’m so glad to join you for the start of the new academic year. I hope you had a reenergizing summer and that you begin this semester ready for an exceptional year ahead.
Many of you are likely looking forward to voting in the presidential election this fall, some for the very first time. What a privilege and responsibility! And, you are also fortunate to be part of a great public university with a long tradition of civil discourse. I look forward to joining you in continuing this tradition not only through the election in November, but throughout your time here, with our campus serving as a model for the free and respectful exchange of ideas.
I know that some in our community continue to experience unease or anguish in the wake of several violent incidents in other parts of Florida and the world this summer. I hope that our university will be a place of reassurance and strength. I urge all students to look out for each other, and don’t hesitate to seek help or assistance through U Matter We Care, UF’s umbrella program for providing support for students in distress.
Also, as a reminder, students have access to the UF Field and Fork Food Pantry, just south of Marston Science Library. The pantry provides free food, toiletries and other items to those with a need and a valid UF ID.
UF is an amazing and dynamic university with great ambitions. We’re creating new academic programs, expanding online education, hiring extraordinary faculty and adding facilities designed to serve students in new ways, including the Newell Hall Student Learning Commons set to open in April.
Your commitment to learning brought you to UF, and I applaud you for it. But I also urge you to take mental breaks and expand your horizons by participating in what this university has to offer outside the classroom.
Check out UF’s daily calendar for an amazing array of speakers, including scholars and change-makers from around the globe. Enjoy a workout or a swim. You might try painting some ceramics in the Arts & Crafts Center in the newly renovated Reitz Union – or making a mobile app at MADE@UF spaces at Infinity Hall and the Marston Science Library.
I know that you will grow and gain from being a part of extracurricular activities – and your choice of our wonderfully diverse student organizations – just as you will from your classes.
If you see me on campus, Twitter or Snapchat, I hope you will say hello or send me a tweet or snap. May your fall semester be full of joy, wonder and accomplishment. Go Gators!
W. Kent Fuchs
President, University of Florida