Q&A - December 27, 2015

The holiday season always provides us with an opportunity to reflect on those things that are truly important to us in life—things like faith, family, and friends. We often express our gratitude for the houses we live in and food we eat, for the friendships we cherish and families we love.

Terms like grace, peace, and harmony have a renewed significance during this time of year as we contemplate our own good fortune and the plight of our neighbor. Charity of heart and mind fill the holidays with good cheer and devotion. We are a blessed people, and as such, we will continue to share the joy of the holidays with those around us.

If you will indulge me, I would like to respond to the most presumptive holiday question of all.

Q:For what are you thankful this year?

For the past seven months, I have been publishing this newspaper column. To my great delight, many of you have made a conscious effort to personally thank me for my words of explanation and encouragement. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated more than you will know. Thirty weeks ago, I had no idea if anyone would care about what I would have to say or even read a column that I would produce, but so many of you have made it very clear that you do care and are paying attention.

I am thankful to call Okmulgee my home. As most of you know, my wife and I moved here from out-of-state only four years ago, but this community has embraced us with open arms and made us feel like we belong. A genuine willingness to accept newcomers is a relatively rare thing in most communities around the country, but I can say from firsthand experience, that a welcoming nature is one of the many charms of Okmulgee.

I am thankful to work with such a remarkably talented faculty and staff at OSUIT. It has been my honor to work at six different institutions of higher education over the course of my career, but I would certainly put this group of professionals up alongside any others for the sake of comparison. OSUIT does not lack for proficiency or dedication among its employees. In every department, this is simply the finest group of people with which I have been privileged to work.

I am thankful to be associated with Okmulgee Main Street. While Okmulgee has many active groups and organizations—many membership clubs and associations that are each engaged in noteworthy efforts, it took one special group of people to remind all of us about community pride and what can be accomplished when we work together. When this town had all but given up on itself, Okmulgee Main Street launched an inspirational campaign and declared that Okmulgee is far from dead, it is “rising.”

When I look back on this past year in Okmulgee, I am profoundly grateful to be witness to what I believe to be history in the making. Okmulgee is truly rising and it will never be the same again. Your questions and comments are welcomed at osuit-president@okstate.edu.