From the President: Welcome to the New Academic Year

August 28, 2023

Dear Southern Community,

Greetings and welcome to the 2023-2024 academic year! I hope that all of you have had a restful and enjoyable summer and are feeling reinvigorated as our new and continuing scholars arrive on campus.

During the orientation sessions and on move-in day this past weekend, I had the opportunity to greet many members of the incoming class, and they are clearly excited to be joining our diverse and vibrant university family. I appreciate that all of you are deeply committed to our scholars’ academic and personal success and want to see them flourish and excel during their years at Southern.

A huge “thank you” must also go to the many employees who have worked long and hard this summer to prepare campus for the start of the fall semester. Your Southern pride is evident in everything that you do, and our scholars will benefit as a result.

Later today, it is my pleasure to induct the members of the Class of 2027 at the New Student Convocation and Rite of Passage.  They will be asked to pledge their commitment to our university’s core values: excellence, social justice, and service for the public good. You may be interested to know that this incoming class has more racial and ethnic diversity than any that has come before, with 62.5 percent of scholars identifying as students of color. In addition, 56 percent are first-generation students and 17 percent are legacy students, following in the footsteps of parents or grandparents who successfully pursued a Southern education. 

For many of these scholars, the start of their college career at Southern may appear daunting -- they may be nervous about what the immediate future holds. But in my short time as interim president, I have quickly learned that this is a campus of compassion, and I know that we will all do our very best to make our scholars feel connected and provide a sense of belongingness; while assisting them to reach their full promise. During these first few days of the semester, if you see a scholar who appears a little lost, simply say hello and ask if they need assistance -- a friendly greeting will go a long way.

Finally, as you read in my recent correspondence about the university budget, we have fiscal challenges to overcome as we look ahead to the 2025 academic year. Be assured that as a community we will work collaboratively to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. There is also much to look forward to in the coming months, including the final review and implementation of our new five-year strategic plan; the ribbon cutting for our new home for the School of Business on Sept. 15 (an event which Governor Lamont will be attending); the installation of our latest Connecticut State University Professor, David Pettigrew on Oct. 6  (one of our system’s most prestigious academic honors) and our annual Homecoming celebration on Oct. 14.

During the fall, my intention is to be active and engaged on campus and in the wider community, building on many of the excellent partnerships that Southern already has in place. I will meet many of you in your departments or out on campus -- please take the opportunity to say hello and let me know your ideas and concerns.

Again, I thank you for your hard work, creativity, and innovation. I look forward to greeting you in person at our Fall Town Hall -- tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, September 19 -- and joining you in advancing our shared commitment to student success and well-being.


Dr. D

Dr. Dwayne Smith
Interim President