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May 1, 2018

Prabu David: Resilience

Prabu David is the dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. The following faculty voice is David's April 12, 2018 blog post on the ComArtsSci homepage.

The dawn of spring brings new hopes and new beginnings. Every new leaf and flower after a long winter is a miracle and testament to nature’s resilience. Spring is also the time to celebrate the resilience and victory of our students who have overcome challenges in their march toward graduation.

Resilience is an innate strength that restores and regenerates. It is tested and perhaps most evident in the aftermath of a crisis. Much like individuals, organizations are endowed with resilience. While some organizations never fully recover, others return to their original status. The most remarkable organizations, buoyed by resilience, exceed their pre-crisis standing.

Remarkable organizations draw strength from their social capital, which is the sum total of the strength of connections among individuals who care about the organization. At MSU, these connections reside in the relationships between alumni and students, students and faculty and among colleagues at MSU.

In other words, our resilience is our latent potential we fondly call the Spartan spirit. The challenge ahead of us is to collect the potential energy from these relationships and convert it into kinetic energy to transform the institution we care about.

We can all learn from the efforts of a small group of students in ComArtSci who launched the #GoTeal campaign. Days after we heard the impact statements from the survivors, Professor Ross Chowles emailed me that a small group of students was interested in developing a campaign. Their campaign includes portraits of students with teal lipstick to raise awareness and the sale of ribbons named after each survivor to raise money for victims. What started as a class project with a fistful of dollars has turned into a powerful response.

As we think of recovery and resilience, we have to look back and learn from for our mistakes. We have an equal obligation to look ahead to the future and mobilize our collective energy to a cause that lifts up the institution. It must be a cause rooted in the land-grant tradition of making our community, state, nation and the world a better place.

Winter has given way to spring, and it is time for us to rise and celebrate our graduates. Spring will give way to summer when the campus empties out. Summer is a time for reflection to reaffirm our core values and define our future for the new students who will arrive in the fall. We have a responsibility to animate their hopes and dreams.

The phoenix rising from the ashes signifies a resurgence from a fire. Each of us has faced a difficult challenge or obstacle to overcome. Each small victory is a resilient point of light that can be a beacon for future generations and a reminder that adversity forges character.