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K-State Today

May 22, 2018

From the Provost's desk: Endings and beginnings

Submitted by April Mason

Provost and senior vice president April Mason

Dear Colleagues:

Last August when I announced I would be leaving at the end of June 2018, it felt like I had so much time and would be able to do so many things in advance of my departure. At the New Student Convocation last August, I teared up thinking it was my last of these special events. However, I still had a whole year to get important work done.

As you know, commencement is one of my very favorite ceremonies of the university. In December, I made many in Arts and Sciences laugh when I came to their commencement with a bicycle helmet under my motor board, just in case I decided to fall off the stage again! (BTW, many thanks to the Athletics staff who took my fall very seriously and reconfigured the stage. I guess they figured I was not the only graceless provost around!)

During this spring's commencement, I watched student after student walk across the commencement stage, and I thought of what each represented. Their individual efforts, trials, successes and failures. The help they had gained from so many. I had the opportunity to shake hands with each and congratulate them. I lost count of how many walked across with little ones in their arms. They were tattooed, pierced, wore high heels, or flip-flops, dressed to the tees or looking like they had just thrown a robe on over their sleepwear, they all processed, they moved their tassel from the right to left and the crowds cheered. There were two posthumous diplomas given, painful reminders of those who were here, but are no longer with us.

Speeches abounded, including ones by President Myers, First Lady Mary Jo Myers and myself. I do not remember the speaker at my college graduation, so harbor no hope anyone will remember my words, but it was uplifting to challenge the Human Ecology graduates to accept the gift of education they had worked for and received. I asked them to keep learning always by asking questions, reading, thinking, experiencing new things, and being uncomfortable.

After the students moved out of the residence halls, I moved in. My home until late June is a Kramer apartment. Very nice and made available by Housing and Dining. My sincere thanks. It seems fitting, as when I came to K-State I lived temporarily in the condos at Anderson and Manhattan. I walked to the office and felt the campus. I do so again. Trenton Kennedy, graduating senior, posted on Facebook a video of campus as he drove through on his way out of town after graduation. It was touching. As I run (jog slowly) around campus in the early morning, I am composing my own video of the sights, sounds, memories, events, and thoughts of my tenure here at Kansas State University. The video is long, it has hilariously funny times, poignant times, sad times and deeply studied times. The university is different than it was in 2010 when I arrived, much has moved forward on our way to 2025. Much is better, much needs yet to be done.

I am different than when I arrived in 2010. I have been shaped by the many incredible students, staff and faculty I have had the honor to know, work with, and be inspired by. I am thankful and honored to have had the opportunity to serve Kansas State University. The wheel of the academic year will continue to turn, new students will come, and more students will graduate. New faculty and staff will choose Kansas State for their careers. I will look on fondly from an adjacent state and always smile. Thank you for sharing your university with me. I am not done, but my time here has nearly run out. I know there are so many who will continue the great work of teaching, research and service at the core of an outstanding land-grant university.

Thank you for all you do,