A Day of Gratitude, Reflection and Celebration February 9, 2022

A proposal was made to me several months ago that UF set aside a day this academic year for gratitude.  The proposal was for a day of fun devoted to gratitude for all the sacrifices and contributions members of the UF community have made for more than a year and a half in the midst of the pandemic. 

There is so much for which we have to be grateful, including all the UF Health workers who have battled COVID in our hospitals, administered seemingly endless COVID tests and now vaccinated vast numbers of our students, staff and faculty.  Our gratitude extends to every employee, all staff and faculty, who continue to excel in their work while maintaining personal health protocols. Our gratitude is also for UF’s students, who during COVID have made incredible contributions and personal sacrifices.  UF’s alumni and friends have also supported UF at record levels throughout the pandemic, for which we are grateful.

Feb. 9, 2022, will be UF’s Day of Gratitude, with an overarching theme of reflecting on UF’s Core Values.  Our core values include excellence, discovery and innovation, inclusion, freedom and civility, community, and stewardship.  I’ve seen all those values expressed daily across UF as COVID has surged and waned. 

Feb. 9 will also be a day of celebration.  I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions for several years, including my now often repeated tweet from September 9, 2019, that we should cancel classes for a daylong celebration when UF reaches Top 5 status. In 1948, President J Hillis Miller first announced UF’s goal of becoming a Top 10 university.  It took 69 years to achieve that goal, which occurred in 2017.  It took only four more years to achieve UF’s Top 5 goal.  This achievement, which is due to the contributions of everyone associated with UF, is worthy of celebration.

Although the university president can abruptly close the university and cancel classes when there is an emergency, non-emergency class cancelation requires consultation with the Faculty Senate and colleges.  We have begun that process and hope by December to confirm that Feb. 9, 2022 will be a day set aside, without most formal classes, for gratitude, reflection, celebration, and equally important, a lot of fun.

Although there is much to celebrate, the ongoing pandemic is demanding that many in the UF community continue to sacrifice.  After more than 18 months of incredible pandemic challenges, I am filled with gratefulness and admiration for the selfless service and sacrificial contributions by every member of The Gator Nation.