2017: Our Journey Begins

January 6, 2017 | Martha D. Saunders, Ph.D.

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The imagery associated with voyages has been a part of our culture since the earliest days of human history. Researchers found links between ancient cave drawings that indicate a great human migration from South Africa out into Europe and the Far East.  Eventually, those living near a sea devised ways to use simple boats to travel further abroad.

These voyages entered mythology, including the story of Jason and the Argonauts, which is where our 2017 journey begins. According to the story, before Jason could take his place as king, he had to complete a quest for a golden fleece. Jason rounded up a number of heroes known as the Argonauts to sail with him on the Argo.

So, my fellow Argonauts, UWF has been on a journey for 50 years now. Just like the Argonauts of old, we’ve had challenges thrown our way, but we overcame them by working together. It’s time now to take our trusty ship and chart the course for the next 50 years.

Every journey needs a destination so you can map out the best way to get there. For us, the destination may seem daunting, especially when you hear terms like “emerging preeminence” or “performance metrics.” As your captain on this journey, my job is to chart a clear path that builds on our strengths and ensures that we have a sustainable model that allows for continued improvements.

Last week, I asked UWF’s leadership to help us discover The Next Big Thing. Through a rigorous selection process, we will invest in programs, either new or enhanced, that are designed to move our university forward. The awardees must demonstrate a clear need for graduates of the program. The program also must have real potential to have an impact on our regional economy, develop industry partnerships, have external funding sources, gain national visibility, be attractive to students and make a positive impact on UWF. I’ll share more about The Next Big Thing as we move through the selection process.

I’m glad we’re on this journey together. Like Jason, I find my shipmates to be heroic. I am proud and honored to be the sixth president of the University of West Florida. As Mark Twain said, “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”