The close of November – 11.19.21

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

This is the bleakest hour of the semester, I think. We are all so tired, and there is more to come. We have the respite of Thanksgiving, but then you are challenged to devise a meaningful final exam, grade it, and to submit piles of recommendation letters. You have the challenge of convening and serving on search committees for new faculty and staff hires. The challenge of submitting and monitoring grants. The challenge of Workday. Of keeping our finances sound. Of pushing ahead rigorous research. Of innovating in every sphere. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of responsibility, and how important to find moments of peace and rest.

As a wonderful outcome of our work to educate, last weekend saw Commencement 2020. Thousands of students and their families came back, determined to celebrate at their beloved university. On Friday evening, our team of Associate Dean Kevin Thompson, Assistant Dean Amber Watson and myself helped welcome graduates back to Northeastern. Next day, in Matthews Arena, I was so proud to present each COS graduate with an alumni pin, and so proud of student speaker, Bioengineering and Chemistry graduate, and Rhodes Scholar Kritika Singh, accompanied by Prof. Oyinda Oyelaran, one of her mentors. President Aoun recounted the emotional context of shutting down everything back in March 2020, while Chef Ming Tsai urged everyone to make kindness a central part of their lives. Totally. We are all trying so hard, accomplishing, failing, learning, trying again. Being kind and encouraging is the only way to go.

We observe the Thanksgiving holiday with prayers of remembrance and gratitude. We remember those we personally lost, ever loved and in our hearts. We may be filled with gratitude - I am grateful that we can meet in person again, even amidst the continuing COVID threat. I am enormously grateful for your partnership in moving the College of Science forward, for the good of all its members, and for the good of Northeastern University.

We acknowledge that Native Peoples have been greatly disrespected and mistreated. Randall Hughes, Associate Dean for Equity suggests that before your Thanksgiving dinner, you read the beautiful central address for the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy or the Six Nations (of Native Peoples). An excerpt is below.

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty and responsibility to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give our greetings and our thanks to one another as people. 

Now our minds are one.

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send our greetings and our thanks. 

Now our minds are one.

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms - waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send our greetings and our thanks to the spirit of Water. 

Now our minds are one.

Now we turn to all the Medicine plants of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind we send our greetings and our thanks to the Medicines, and to the keepers of the Medicines. 

Now our minds are one.

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, Shonkwaia’tison, and send our greetings and our thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it is not our intention to leave anything out. If something has been forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send their greetings and their thanks in their own way.

And now our minds are one.