Friday, December 8, 2006

Dr. Karen Swisher Retirement Reception Remarks

As future poet laureate, I'm finding myself called upon more often to speak on ceremonial occasions. This was one of the original European poet laureate functions, to perform as a "regis versificator." This person was part of a court's entourage. I have prepared these remarks for Dr. Karen Gayton Swisher's retirement reception from Haskell:

Farewell comments for Karen Swisher

During the time we spend with each other, we enter into relationship with each other—become family, as we say at Haskell. We share experiences, successes, failures, hopes. We blend our life energies with each other, we learn each other’s habits, we learn each other’s talents: and we enter into a lifetime covenant of memories. Although we may leave this room at 5 pm, we will not leave each other’s thoughts. Our stories, our dreams, our way of thinking, our future memories are all influenced by how we have shared this time together. Dr. Swisher is a part of this shared collective memory.

In her years at Haskell, Dr Swisher has been a consultant, a colleague, and a leader for us. She will always be part of Haskell –both its history and its future. Without her there would not be the bright possibilities we have before us. We have excellent accreditation. We have collegiate programs and grants and research and conferences and curriculum and graduates. We have an increase in Native faculty. We have a leader who allowed us to develop university goals. We have a leader who will always be woven into the fabric of daily practices at Haskell and who will always be part of our life experience.

I have gratitude for all these academic gifts from Dr. Swisher. I also will remember her insistence on civility and kindness. She has encouraged us to be positive about one another. I remember when she has offered me a place to sit when I felt out of place. She insists on courtesy in meetings, and she is always willing to listen to every individual. She values all of us. This has set the tone for the campus, and it is a wonderful precedent—the basis for all successful University and institution interactions.

I hope Dr. Swisher will return often. I expect to see her at basketball games, at Thunderbird Theatre plays, and at poetry readings. I expect her to remain a visible, inspirational example of how the Haskell family survives, prevails, and triumphs.


The local paper did this article:

c. Denise Low

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