Today marks the formal beginning of a new academic year on our campus. This morning some classes began as early as 7 o’clock, while others will stretch beyond 9:30 in the evening. Tomorrow our volleyball team faces the first contest of the fall season, and Wednesday at fall convocation we welcome William Kamkwamba, author of the common reading, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
The summer was hardly silent. We were honored to receive our second Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, a five-year, $64.6 million grant that will allow the university and its health care partners to continue to advance health care here and around the world. We were thrilled to be part of a consortium of universities, businesses and nonprofit organizations that won $30 million to jumpstart innovative manufacturing as a model for the country. And we were humbled, truly humbled, to see our supporters so inspired by all of you that they set a second straight all-time annual fundraising record, this one at $138.4 million.
The heart of our campus provides powerful evidence of how transformative such gifts can be. This summer crews began work on the Tinkham Veale University Center, an 82,000-square-foot structure that will provide new space for classrooms, student organizations and dining offerings. Scheduled to open in 2014, the building also will contain a 9,000-square-foot ballroom and outdoor performance space. We realize that the fencing and forklifts will create some inconvenience in the meantime, and thank you in advance for your patience and forbearance. This site includes a 24-hour live webcam, construction updates and other information about the project.
Meanwhile, last week we welcomed the largest, most diverse and most accomplished undergraduate class in our history. As many of you know, we dramatically enhanced our programs for incoming students this year; I commend our new Director of First-Year Experience Edwin Mayes and all of the staff who collaborated so well to make last week’s events such a success. To get a flavor of the fun, don’t miss this video marking Sunday’s move-in and Monday’s moving ceremonies.
I look forward to seeing these first-year students again at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday at convocation, as well as all of you. In addition to hearing from Mr. Kamkwamba, we also will recognize the 2012 Distinguished University Professors. These are individuals who have combined extraordinary impact in their disciplines with superb service and leadership on our campus. This year’s honorees are James Anderson, Claudia Colton, Eva Kahana, Chung-Chiun Liu and Alan Rocke. The Daily is profiling each of these individuals this week; they, and those who came before them, enrich our campus by all that they do and all that they are. I often say faculty members are the heart of our campus; when you read these stories, you’ll begin to have a powerful sense as to why.
To all of our outstanding faculty, I say thank you. Thank you for your discoveries and your teaching, your creative efforts and your mentoring. You attract remarkable students, inspire generous gifts and, every day, help change the world for the better. I wish you, and all of our students and staff, a wonderful 2012-13.