April 15, 2020
Gratitude is MORE than a word.
Gratitude is appreciating and respecting others for their actions and thanking them for their good deeds. The acclaimed children’s musician, Red Grammer, wrote in lyrics to his song simply entitled, Gratitude:
Show a little gratitude, make someone smile
It’s worth your while and easy to do
Just a little thank you may be all they need to be guaranteed
To redo their good deed for someone new
As I begin my new role, and responsibilities, as our university’s Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, my first act is to express gratitude to the Mason community for its extraordinary efforts as we have confronted and responded to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.
Together, as a community, we have supported each other and our students, pivoted our instructional programs with over 5,000 courses and transformed them into remote and online learning formats, engaged in consequential research and scholarship, and continued to manage the essential functions of our university through virtual engagement. Your efforts truly have been extraordinary and heroic in every way. I express to you my thanks – my gratitude.
For the last decade I have had the honor, and privilege, to serve as the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. Prior to arriving at Mason in 2010, I spent more than 30 years in leadership and management roles. I was honored to have been a faculty member at several major research universities, including Johns Hopkins and the University of Rochester, and as a senior leader at three major national professional associations: the American Psychological Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (the latter two of which I had served as the Chief Executive Officer). I have also held multiple elected volunteer leadership positions in major national and international organizations.
Although I am both a scholar and an experienced leader and manager, and believe that my professional background and associated experiences have prepared me for my interim role, I am not sure that anyone could be prepared to address the multiple challenges that our world currently faces.
During this unprecedented moment in time, as we continue our response to the COVID-19 crisis, it also is a critical time of transition for our university as the Mason community prepares to welcome Greg Washington as our new President. I am humbled by my appointment and hope that I personally can bring my decade of experience serving as a Dean at our university, and an even wider perspective about higher education, that will help us to have a seamless transition in leadership as we seek to propel our university to new heights – to go from “great to greater.”
I pledge that I will work in close collaboration with the Deans and other Mason administrators, members of our Mason faculty and staff as well as the university’s alumni, friends and allies as together we traverse the “high seas” upon which we now travel. It is a time that demands experienced, informed, deliberative, strategic and bold leadership. Indeed, it will be a critical time of inflection.
This month, as we celebrate major religious holidays, we commemorate other historical times of inflection. This season prompts us to reflect on our history, our lives and legacy – as well as our future.
My own ancestral heritage is represented during this season by the holiday of Passover. The story of Passover, which is highly relevant for today, tells of struggle and suffering, of searching for equality and freedom in the face of persecution, of confronting plagues and of wandering in a barren desert in search tranquility. The tradition of Passover provides the opportunity of reflecting on a commitment to family and friends, an acknowledgement of human resilience, a passion for and celebration of life, and a yearning for normalcy. The lessons of biblical times, and also of more recent historical moments when civilization has confronted seemingly insurmountable challenges, teach us about moving forward and achieving renewed equilibrium.
As the nations of the world endure unexpected illness, death and tragedy, and while we continue to adjust and adapt to a “new normal”, let it also be time for the expression of gratitude. Gratitude for our shared commitment to and support of each other and our students, and gratitude for the dedication of our entire university community. I am also profoundly thankful for the resilience of the human spirit, for health and for a vision that as we find our way out of today’s metaphoric desert, as my ancestors literally did many generations ago, we will come upon an oasis that will bring renewed hope, peace and well-being.
I pledge that I will work as hard as I can, with you, for you, and on your behalf and to help lead Mason through today’s “turbulent waters” so that “when the high waves finally subside” and “calm seas return”, we will be well-positioned for a successful future that together we co-create.
I am honored to serve as Mason’s Interim Provost and Executive Vice-President. As Red Grammer would sing: I hope that you are smiling.
Mark R. Ginsberg
Interim Provost and Executive Vice-President