When I am in meetings or walking across any campus, I see a lot of people looking down. They’re checking email, texting and — in theory at least — making efficient use of their time.
I value the wise use of time, but I also value human contact. You can’t make connections if you’re looking down. You can’t say “hello” or start a conversation if you can’t look people in the eyes.
Remember that at SIU, it’s personal. As we work to build connections with our students and each other, let’s look up. Let us take our eyes off of our devices and ask the people we see how they’re doing. Get to know them and demonstrate the friendliness for which SIU is so well known. You’ll be surprised at what a difference a single connection can make in a student’s decision to stay at SIU.
I also encourage each of us to spend more time listening and less time talking. It has been said that the human form is pretty well constructed with two exceptions: we need to have smaller mouths and bigger ears. As good listeners, we learn more, make better decisions, and demonstrate our respect for others.
As I have looked up and listened during my first weeks on campus, I have heard a lot about recent tensions and challenges. I value knowing about the past because it provides context for the present. At the same time, I don’t want to spend too much of our valuable time on things we cannot change.
I choose to look forward rather than behind. Please join me in turning our attention to the opportunities before us. Let’s look ahead.