Dear Hokies:

I know we’re starting the spring 2021 term surrounded by tough realities on multiple fronts. We’re still surrounded by national discord, pervasive injustice, and a relentless pandemic, which can make getting out of bed each morning a direct act of courage and hope.

When people ask me why I love working at Virginia Tech, I don’t need time to think about an answer. I just keep saying what I truly believe; this generation of students — that’s you, the ones who get out of bed with a willingness to partner in a better future — will lead with a fortitude and hope that is game-changing. We won’t be in this spot long because you won’t let it be so.

I’ve long believed that transformation begins in small groups and that cultural change is a grassroots movement. Why not start here — at Virginia Tech — and in the spring semester, 2021? In moments big and small, in public spheres and in private spaces, let’s take our place in history by choosing possibility over cynicism, listening more than talking, and sharing power rather than hoarding it. In the fall semester, you humbled us all with your sacrifice and commitment to public health while putting others first. Let’s build on what you’ve already modeled and believe that together, Hokies can move the needle toward hope.

The late Robert K. Greenleaf, often given credit for coining the phrase servant-leadership, offers that leadership is sometimes translated into an assumption that people become leaders in order to serve. In contrast, he argues, servant-leaders seek to serve and therefore, emerge as leaders out of this commitment. I’ve seen so many examples of this in you already. Let’s harness our agency and renew this disposition for the hard days we’re experiencing. There’s no better time to serve.

With hope,

Frank Shushok, Jr.
Vice President for Student Affairs