It’s been a year of last times.

After I announced my pending retirement before the start of the Fall 2019 semester, I received a call from a retired colleague who warned me, “Watch out for the first last time, and the next last time and the last time.”

While I understood what he was saying, I didn’t really feel the impact of those words until my beautiful wife, Lori, and I had the pleasure of helping to coronate our Homecoming King and Queen in October. It struck me then that it was the last time I would, as president, take part in this time-honored celebration.

Then there was the last Southern Lights tree-lighting ceremony before Christmas, and the last time I was able to speak to an assembly of our wonderful faculty and staff during the Spring 2020 Welcome Back meeting.

Now, it’s yet another last time – the last time I’ll speak to you, the alumni and friends of Missouri Southern who make up our extended Lion family, in the pages of this publication.

In his book “The Last Lecture,” the late Randy Pausch – a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon – said, “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” And that’s what I want to use this last time with you to express – my gratitude.

Seven years ago, I was appointed to serve as this university’s interim president. The following year, I was invited to continue on in an official capacity. As a proud

graduate of this institution, I consider it the honor of a lifetime to have been afforded the opportunity to serve as president.

Education is truly a remarkable field of work, and I feel grateful to have been able to stand alongside such a committed group of professionals who work each day on behalf our students.

I’m grateful that we’ve been able to work together during this time of growth and momentum on campus – from construction and renovation projects to the expansion of our academic offerings and our recent 10-year reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. Missouri Southern’s future is bright and filled with promise, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’m grateful for the amazing students I’ve been able to get to know, whose accomplishments in and out of the classroom are evidence that our best days are ahead.

And, finally, I’m grateful to you – our graduates, our supporters, our donors, our fans and friends – for your generous support for this university; for making your voices heard; and for taking me and my family into yours. Thank you!

It’s a great day to be a Lion … and tomorrow will be as well.