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Keeping connections strong

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Roberts speaks to a gathering of alumni and community members in the Peplow Pavilion of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center.

What a whirlwind these first months of 2016 have been! Donna and I, along with our four fur children, Scamp, Sophie, Izzy and Teddy, have settled into our new home and are excited to be in Peoria. In making my way around campus and the community, I have been overwhelmed by the incredibly warm reception we have received from everyone we’ve met.

In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many alumni/ae, both here in Peoria and at events elsewhere, and I look forward to seeing many more of you soon. I’m struck by how similar our Bradley Experiences have been: close relationships with faculty and other mentors, opportunities for hands-on experiential learning and opportunities for involvement in activities that aren’t always available at larger institutions.

All these things provide not only excellent knowledge and training, but also the development of life skills so essential for a lifetime of success. In short, Bradley is a great place for young people to develop and mature, all while getting an outstanding education.

Coming back to campus has brought an avalanche of happy memories. I didn’t know anything about the university when I first arrived as a freshman exactly 50 years ago, but one of the first things I did was go visit George Armstrong, the debate coach, to tell him I was interested in joining the team. Although he had no idea whether I’d be an asset, George added me to the roster. His instant acceptance was an important step in my life, and is typical of the support Bradley faculty routinely show their students. Even today, when technology is ubiquitous, Bradley students develop close relationships with their professors and their fellow students, just as I did so many years ago.

I owe a lot of my success to people like George, as well as my many other mentors like the legendary Kal Goldberg, whose Econ 101 class forever changed the way I think about the world and my fellow humans. I will always be grateful for the time and attention they gave me, and I’m sure many of you feel similarly about your Bradley professors. 

I hope all of you will stay engaged with this amazing place and that you’ll find ways to give back, whether it’s in the form of recommending Bradley to a prospective student, helping a Bradley student or graduate find a job, coming back to campus to revisit happy times or making a gift.

Higher education faces many challenges today, especially for midsized institutions like Bradley. But by keeping your connection to this great university strong and by working together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

It’s good to be back on the Hilltop.