As I wrote the initial draft of this letter, I was excited with the anticipation that comes before Springfield College celebrations. The campus was being readied for Reunion 2016, and we looked forward to welcoming you home. Reunion was, in fact, a great success and so many of you had numerous opportunities to reconnect. And then, on Reunion Sunday, the unthinkable happened.
A senseless act of violence was carried out against a group of people who may already feel particularly vulnerable. And, as I processed my numerous emotions, my pride in being the president of Springfield College became a focus. We have a unique quality among our alumni and students, a caring and a commitment to serving others that helps communities get through tragedies such as the most recent one in Orlando.
Western Massachusetts and Springfield College just marked the fifth anniversary of the tornado of June 1, 2011. In the hours that followed that June, our students walked up and down streets, delivering water and sandwiches that they had made to our neighbors and offering to engage their children in activities so parents could concentrate on work needing to be done.
The late public television personality Fred Rogers often told a story about how his mother helped him through scary times when he was a child. She told him, “Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers … Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”
I have hope for our world because, in times of good and in times of trouble, Springfield College folks can usually be counted among the helpers. No matter your discipline or career path, chances are that you arrived at Springfield College because you had an abiding commitment to service to others. You may not even have known it at the time, but something about this institution spoke to something inside of you.
Although we don’t always know what connections we may have to a particular news story, I do know this: Springfield College alumni and students are out helping whenever and wherever they can.
And that gives me great hope.
My very best,
Mary-Beth A. Cooper, PhD, DM