Dear Shaw Fam,
When I started my tenure as your president, I remember how challenging it was to pen an introductory speech because I wanted to ensure I conveyed my commitment to you authentically. I wanted you to know that I was dedicated to serving you. I wanted our students to know I would be attentive to their needs because I walked in their shoes, our faculty and staff to know I understood and acknowledged their concerns, and our alumni to know we share an unwavering love for our Alma Mater. I wanted Raleigh to know that we would be present and participatory at the table and Southeast Raleigh to know we were committed to being their anchor institution of higher education. I thought wordsmithing that introductory speech was tough. In retrospect, I was wrong. This farewell letter is even tougher.
It is easy as a college president to talk about an institution as a collection of experiences, lessons, opportunities and wins. But at the core of these experiences are people – classmates, professors, mentors, mentees and neighbors – who shape the identity and give life to what we consider an institution to be.
That’s what resonates with me the most as I think about departing Mother Shaw and our lil’ big city, Raleigh. I celebrate the people who bring depth to my definitions of scholars, athletes, teachers, advocates and alumni. You were so much more than faces, selfies or conversations as we passed on campus or in the community. You were voices of optimism, support, kindness and intellectual vigor that made me honored to be a part of your lives and your respective journeys.
From those of you who shared your beautiful stories of your backgrounds and aspirations, to those who shared how your lives were made better by your time here at Shaw U – all of these encounters helped me to realize that the best fruit of people is more than the good we can do for each other, but how we inspire each other through our testimonies and our desire to see good beyond our own benefit.
This is what I tried to emulate as a president – for every decision and interaction to be an adequate reflection of our community and its spirit.
I am sure that I missed the mark sometimes in this effort. Like any family or community, there is no such thing as perfection. But I am so blessed to have come of age as an executive in a place I can genuinely call home, and to have been raised by a true network of supporters and loved ones. I believe that our institution is in a better place of financial, social and operational functioning not solely because of my vision as a leader, but because of your hard work, contributions and belief in Shaw’s potential and realization of the same.
Your conversations and recommendations drove so much of what we implemented in an E.P.I.C. vision for our institution, and I know that in Dr. Dillard’s and her Cabinet’s capable hands, the next chapter of the vision for Shaw and this city will have greater success and impact in all areas of community and industry.
I will never forget all of the wonderful sites and ideas I discovered in this extraordinary place. Becoming an advocate and a community leader in Raleighwood has been a great joy in my professional and personal lives. I want you to know that learning the ropes of each of these roles and bearing responsibility for one of the nation’s great historically black institutions was not a trip I took in solitude, but a collective journey for my family and I, which allowed us to be carried by so many great people towards a worthy cause.
For carrying me and caring for me, I will never forget you, or our time together. Shaw University and the City of Raleigh will always be home for us.
With Shaw U Pride,
Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Ph.D.