December 5, 2008
In the days since our Town Meeting on the budget, and in the spirit of the season, many of you have asked me: “What can I do to help?”
As of today, 138 gifts totaling $22,796 have been made to the One Clemson Furlough Relief Fund, and that’s great for those families in greatest need. But the answer to the question “What can I do to help Clemson?” is more complex.
As our 11 budget task forces begin their work in earnest next week, and I have four suggestions for all of us to consider.
1. Focus on our students.
Remember that they are more stressed than usual because of the economic uncertainty. In addition to exams, they are worried about finding a job or being able to afford to continue their educations. They need us to be the adults in the room who put the needs of the next generation ahead of our own. We know how to do that; we are educators.
2. Remember our achievements.
Recognize that we are one of America’s best public universities. Let’s celebrate that success and honor what led to it – a commitment to quality. We have strengthened our faculty, improved the educational experience for our students, and focused our research and public service activities in areas of most importance to our state and its economy. Let’s hold onto the fact that Clemson is part of the long-term solution for our economy, not part of the problem.
3. Think and act as a University citizen.
Please don’t spend your time and energy protecting your turf, or seeking to gain advantage at the expense of your colleagues. Understand that we are stronger when we are unified and working together as we seek the continued support of the legislators, donors, funders and parents who pay our salaries. As Franklin Roosevelt said in his first ‘fireside chat’ in 1933: “It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.”
4. Do what we do best. Think.
Clemson is an organization alive with ideas and smart people. Let’s focus this mighty concentration of brainpower on ideas for solving our financial challenge.
Last week, I gave thanks for all of the bright, determined and creative people who make Clemson University such a remarkable and rewarding place to live and work.
Today, I say thank you and best wishes from the Barker family to your family for the holidays ahead.