Tomorrow we close what can be described only as a heartbreaking semester. As you head home to surround yourselves with family and friends, I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much you have been in my thoughts.
Universities are places of great hope. Though they may age in years, they stay forever young - and forever optimistic - through the perpetual flow of students such as you who build on the accomplishments of those who came before them to create their own lasting legacies. It will be easy to say that this fall will be defined by the hardship and heartache we endured. It will be equally easy to say that it was the point in time when the honor upon which we base our daily work was threatened and began to falter. But your passion tells me otherwise. As challenging a time as it has been, I believe that this fall will be remembered not for how we dwelled in darkness, but for how we turned to light.
Over the past few months, I have seen you stand where few could. You have completed another semester of exceptional academic work while facing often overwhelming circumstances, and have done so selflessly. Our student leaders have fearlessly put themselves at the forefront of pressing national issues, showing the world that we are prepared to embrace our challenges in pursuit of overcoming them. You have continued to support each other in meaningful ways, reminding all of us just how powerful a true community can be. These are the things that inspire us all.
Early next semester we will take time to pause and gather - to remind ourselves that we have only to look to you for the inspiration to make a lasting difference at U.Va. and in the world.
My very best wishes for a joyful and restful break,
Teresa A. Sullivan