Welcome! To those of you who have been here, welcome back to the start of a new academic year, and for those of you who are new to Suffolk, welcome to our community.
When I was growing up I was always so excited about the start of a new school year (looking forward to seeing friends again, learning new subjects, going to school athletic events), and I feel that same excitement now as we greet our new and returning students and recommit ourselves to supporting them in the discovery and pursuit of their passions.
In addition to our law students, who already have begun classes, and our first-year, transfer and graduate students, who start next week, we are welcoming 137 new INTO Suffolk students. That brings our total INTO Suffolk student population, including continuing students, to 152, which is nearly 45 percent above our goal for this fall. They come from dozens of countries, including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Malaysia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, and many others, and we are very pleased to have them join the Suffolk community, knowing that even as they learn from us we all will learn from them as well.
In addition, we have 35 talented new faculty members joining our Suffolk community. I had the privilege of meeting many of them at New Faculty Orientation last week. What a fantastic new group of scholars, teachers, and mentors. We also welcome 30 new staff members who have joined the University since June 1, and who play important roles in supporting our mission.
Yes, our community is growing, and even as we move forward this fall with many important initiatives (like the launch of a new strategic planning process that you will hear more about in the coming weeks) it is important that we recommit ourselves to building not just the size of our community, but also the strength of our ties to one another. Working to further foster connections within the Suffolk community—across all populations, from students, to faculty, to staff, to alumni—will be an important focus for the coming academic year.
One way to build those connections is through office and departmental gatherings. As a University, we have given some thought in recent months to how we could foster more of those kinds of informal and fun events that are so important in building stronger professional relationships and in creating a better workplace for everyone. With that in mind, we have created a new Team Recognition Events Fund, which can be used for informal departmental and office events that help build a collaborative atmosphere. We are not talking about a huge amount of money, but rather some funds available for colleagues to celebrate a group success, or for a team-building event that brings colleagues together in a social, casual, or fun setting. In addition, we have separately set aside funds for small welcome and farewell gatherings. I realize these are relatively small initiatives, but I hope you will view them as I do: as important signs of our collective understanding that to be a strong and vibrant institution we must be a strong and vibrant community, committed to our powerful mission and connected to each other, with an endless capacity to make a positive difference in the lives of our students.
I look forward to working with all of you over the course of the academic year to strengthen vital connections, to bring new members into the fold, and to build an even stronger Suffolk University.
Marisa J. Kelly