Person walking down a sunlit sidewalk on a winter morning


Welcome to 2024!

Hopefully, everyone had at least some opportunity to pause and step away from the computer, to spend time with family and friends, to take a walk or just sit and consider the wonders of how quickly time flies when waiting for snow and then, almost as quickly, we wish it was spring again. Regardless, here we are moving forward in a collective towards a future full of promise, even if not with doses of reality thrown in for good measure.

Since January is National Mentoring Month, it seems a good time to reiterate the value of making sure we each have found or commit to finding those with whom we feel especially safe to be our authentic selves – to ask for the guidance and direction we need, to share a nascent thought or start of a paper, to talk through a new innovation or assignment for a class, or just to find a community to support each of our multiple identities. While universities as large and complex as MSU may not be inclined to have centrally organized mentoring initiatives, many kinds of opportunities exist to find support and community including those that began virtually during the pandemic and continue today. Research on mentoring indicates mentorship is most productive and longer lasting when individuals have multiple and peer mentors, as opposed to only those specifically assigned by a department, college, or university. This is where the richness of the university really offers so many opportunities for each of us. Whether you are looking for those with similar research interests, instructional venues, lived experiences as a caregiver or retiree, navigating unit dynamics, figuring out how to support a colleague or student, or finding someone to sit down and have a conversation with over a cup of coffee/tea, it usually just takes reaching out and getting time on the calendar. No doubt, as often as you may be looking for your counsel, you are providing it to others right now -even if it is not always something you recognize in the moment. It has been one of the ways we have and will continue to move forward as a university committed to the state, region and world; it starts with respect and support for each other.

To that end, and in the spirit of National Mentoring Month, we in OFASD encourage you to refresh your own communities and find ways to nourish the value of relationships in your work. Finding those support systems in whatever form and about whatever topic reinforces that power and wisdom is found in collectives, and that most of us grow and thrive in an environment of mutual support. Whether you connect through groups such as the Diversity Research Network, the Engaged Scholarly Write-Ins, the new CIRCLE, offerings by CTLI and the VPRI office, initiatives to connect STEM researchers, the Work-Life Office sessions, offerings of FASD such as Learning Communities and Critical Friends for Department Chairs, or initiatives emerging in your own colleges, we hope you set your sights on building the connections that let you find support in 2024 to be your authentic, creative, and healthy self. After all, fulfilling and successful careers depend on these things, so remember, you are not alone!

All the best in 2024 to all of us!