Photo: President Russell Kavalhuna with his wife, Courtney, and their children, Miles and Samantha.
Dear Colleagues, Students, and Community,
In the 18 months since I became your teammate, I have watched you accomplish many great things on our campuses. My family and I have become full members of the Dearborn community, and we enjoy great friendships and support here. Thank you for these things. They make a me proud and happy.
To my colleagues in our faculty and staff—my teammates:
You have worked very hard this year, and I am grateful. You have embraced the team spirit across all parts of our community. This fall, for the first time in 10 years, the College saw an enrollment increase. Our enrollment outlook for winter, while still preliminary, is encouraging. Enrollment is our lifeblood, and these gains are due to your hard work, your dedication, your determination. But, most of all, our enrollment is directly caused by your willingness to do whatever our team, and our students, need. Enrollment is also a reflection of student confidence and trust in all of us. Congratulations! You have succeeded in growing our enrollment. Few schools can celebrate that fact.
I spend a lot of time talking to our students. This is my greatest joy in this role. I often walk across our campuses, stop in classrooms, and start conversations. I ask students about their experiences, and their coursework. I ask them what they need. In nearly every instance, they express optimism, gratitude, and hopefulness. Sometimes they tell me about things we need to improve. And we are acting on many of those suggestions. But the truth is, no matter what challenges we face, the most important thing we can do is support each individual student on their journey toward a successful life.
True connection with others is very powerful. It can be life-changing. Every person who comes to us with a need, and who leaves with even modest encouragement, is better for having met us. Please continue to extend the hand of support and friendship, and a kind, listening ear, to those around you. I have seen many of you do this, even when delivering difficult information. You make a difference.
I am grateful to each of you for taking on student success as your personal mission. I have seen extraordinary support for our students, from their academics to their personal lives, and I know how important this is. I have also seen you building a culture of teamwork by supporting your teammates across departments and divisions. I believe this makes a huge difference, and I am hopeful your experience bears this out. Be a good teammate. There is nothing more important to our work and our culture.
To our students:
Thank you for choosing our College. We are proud to teach and serve you. I am proud to meet you and to share with you some HFC spirit in the form of conversation and Proud to Be HFC chocolates. You are the reason for everything we do. We will always support your success. And as your president, I am here for you. If you contact me, I will personally respond, because I care about you.
I hope you can feel the support our entire College has for you. If you need something and you have not found a way to get help, reach out to me. I will help you myself, or I will connect you with one of my teammates who can help. While we cannot solve every problem, we will do all we can for you. And we promise to give you information and the dignity of a thoughtful response.
Please keep in touch after you graduate from HFC. We love to hear the stories of how you are doing in your life and what you gained from your experiences here.
It is mid-December, and we have reached the part of the year when we step away from work and school for a time focused on family, friends, and festivities. For some of us, this is a sacred time. For all of us, I hope it will be a restful and enjoyable time.
To all those who have suffered losses this past year, I want you to know that I am thinking of you, and I know how this loss feels, especially at this time of year. I lost my father in December two years ago. It still hurts. If you feel similar pain, I encourage you to focus on the good times with your lost loved one. I support you.
I truly hope that each of you will be surrounded by people who love you, and who bring refreshment, hope, and peace to your life. I encourage you to spend time doing the things that build you up and renew your energy. My wife Courtney and I wish you joy and fulfillment. We celebrate Christmas with our children, Miles (aka MAK) and Samantha. I have included a few pictures of our traditional activities. We look forward with optimism and excitement to what 2020 will bring and what we can accomplish together.
Have a wonderful holiday season! I look forward to seeing all of you on campus in January.
Russ Kavalhuna, with Courtney, Miles, and Samantha
Henry Ford College
Miles has some private requests for Santa, and Samantha knows her brother well.
Tree trimming works best with a little boost from Dad.
A happy Christmas moment with Russ and Samantha.