Linda and I have a tradition of living in one of the residence halls as new students move to campus. Last week, we moved into East Hall. Our hallmates are usually pleased to see us move in and, I expect, they are grateful when we move out as classes begin. Having the president and his wife knock on your residence hall door while you are taking a nap is not the best way to start your college experience. My apologies to Miguel, our East Hall RA.
We have the privilege of sharing first-day emotions, including roommates hugging each other as they meet for the first time, dads trying to act cool during move-in and then crying as they say goodbye and the sounds of the marching band practicing for the Sept. 3 home football game against Utah.
Linda and I personally greeted and helped move in hundreds of students like Sarah and Elizabeth, identical twins who are both premed, and Julia, an international exchange student from Poland, where she is an American Studies major. Julia was struggling to get her suitcases across campus when we offered her a ride and an invitation to experience an American football game in the UF President’s Suite this Fall. We also experienced the food in multiple dining halls (my compliments to the cooks and servers) and ping pong tournaments (thanks to the students who were kind to their aging president).
A shout-out of gratitude and admiration to all the staff and students who this past week welcomed our new students into residence and dining halls with cheerfulness and effectiveness, even in the heat and rain of August in Gainesville.
This past year, UF set dramatic new records in almost all the metrics we measure, including philanthropy (Top 3), research expenditures ($1 billion) and students applying to study at UF (10,000 more than ever before). Later this Fall, we will be celebrating a number of these achievements by our faculty, staff, students, alumni and university friends. However, as we start the academic year, we want to celebrate something quite different: our university values.
UF in 2020 embraced six “core values” representing our understanding of who we are, what we stand for and our aspirations for the future. Those values are excellence, discovery and innovation, inclusion, freedom and civility, community and stewardship. We have set aside next week — the week of Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 — as “UF Core Values Week” to celebrate and spread the word about the core values and their role as the shared touchstones of our UF community.
Colleges and various areas of UF are marking the week in many different ways, and you’re likely to see banners around campus and mentions in your social media feeds. You may learn more about the UF Core Values and how to make them a part of your time by visiting UF’s website.
Whether you are a new or returning student, or a new or current faculty member or staff, I offer my warmest welcome for the start of a truly wonderful new academic year. It is always Great to be a Florida Gator, particularly this new academic year.
Kent Fuchs is the president of the University of Florida.