Day 18: Kearney to McCook, NE

The ride today was really beautiful—from the farms lands of Nebraska in and around Kearny to the western side of Nebraska where the landscape is rolling with cattle over scattered over the rolling acres of land. It was partly cloudy and the temperature was just right. We had to fight a headwind most of the way. You probably getting tired of reading that this was uneventful day, but it was.

Another night off gave me another chance to think about the treasured relationships and memories from my seven years as dean. High on that list is the relationships with the College of Science staff. When I first came to Notre Dame, we were headquartered in Hurley Hall, but we outgrew that space and moved to a beautiful area of the Jordan Hall of Science that made collaboration and interaction easier. The constant among all that growth and change was the dedication of the staff to our mission and the remarkable virtues they demonstrate to advance that vision.

The College of Science staff is both the front line for relating to others and the workroom for carrying out those routine, unheralded tasks that guarantee the excellence of all our initiatives and projects. At any time during the day, we might get a visit from an upset student, a call from an upset parent, an email from a faculty member announcing their new publication, or a query from a national media outlet seeking comment on a major science issue of the day. Meanwhile, the staff is organizing events, juggling schedules, developing projects, interacting with donors, and exercising the most effective stewardship of our resources.

These colleagues do all of that with an extraordinary combination of grace, helpfulness, friendship, patience, perseverance, generosity, creativity, vitality, humility, passion, and compassion. In an environment where we think big and act bold, the requirements of excellence and efficiency call for both top-quality individual performance and a high capacity for partnership, collaboration, and service. The staff has enabled amazing advances in the college over the past seven years because the exercise these virtues day in and day out. It has been an inspiration and a privilege to work with them.

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