Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What it means to be a Terp

There was a lot of stuff that happened this week that I could talk about, not the least of which was a great Homecoming, well maybe all of it besides the actual football game. But I wanted to talk about a great event I was at that really made me proud to be a Terp.

The Friday before every Homecoming, the Alumni Association hosts a an event called the Golden Terp Brunch. "Golden Terps" are alumni who graduated 50 years ago and each year on their 50th anniversary they are invited back to be recognized and receive a medal of commemoration from the University President. They are joined by loved ones, University staff and administrators, and by those who are already Emereti (50+ years since graduation). I was humbled to speak before this group, joking about how foreign 50 years is to my 21 year-old mind. Bert Sugar, arguably the greatest boxing writer in the sport's history was chosen as the class speaker. It really was a great event!

But what impressed me more about this event wasn't the years since they had graduated or the degree by which the campus has changed; I was astonished to hear the pride they had, the fond memories they shared, and the pranks they still remember getting away with. As I said in my speech to them, we often focus on recruitment success in determining the success of an organization. However, it is the retention that is the true determinant of well we are doing. You can fool someone into accepting, joining, or coming through. That only takes a good sales person. There is no fooling someone once they are here.

If that brunch is any indication, there is something we've got here that really works. It's more than rankings and statistics and the strength of our incoming freshman classes. It's about relationships and connections and knowledge that extends beyond books. I am proud of that fact and I am looking forward to building upon it.

So if not before then, I'll see you at brunch in 50 years!



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