The JU Spirit

September 18, 2017

Dear fellow members of the Jacksonville University community,

Thank you. Thank you for sharing your diverse backgrounds and experiences, your determination and expertise, your full support, to help our campus emerge stronger and more unified from the fierce impact of Hurricane Irma. It is hard and worthy work, and once again demonstrates the spirit of our JU family.

As a University community, our thoughts and prayers are with those whose homes and businesses felt the full effect of this devastating storm. One should never tempt fate and claim "success" in the face of a humbling natural disaster. But when this school – a home for all of us – is assaulted by high winds, lashing rain, a hurricane AND a tornado, flooded buildings, torn roofs, downed trees, cancelled classes, postponed events, unpredictable travel, and displaced residents – all without a single injury or even a near-miss, then we should stop and offer thanks. Once again, it bears repeating: adversity does not build character, it reveals it.

From our perspective:

How is our campus? Healing. We are recovering, rebuilding, taking inventory of damage and laying out the full game plan to be 100% again, soon. We looked and felt pristine before Irma’s visit; now, we're on the road back to that "beautiful JU campus."

How are our students doing? Amazing! Once again, our student body proved themselves to be resilient, resourceful and engaged. We speak often about JU students who are smart, creative and fearless. They really showed it. No matter what your connection to our University, you would be proud of these young men and women. They stayed optimistic, came together and helped each other.

Who's responsible for keeping our students safe and our campus secure? Leadership. Dr. Kristie Gover, our Dean of Students, was absolutely stellar, heading up an experienced and decisive team of senior JU leaders with the brains and guts to make smart, timely calls - and lots of them - all along the way. I personally thank every one of them: Margaret Dees, Donnie Horner, Kevin Bennett, DaVina Hamilton, Luke Morrill, Lucas Mullin, Alex Ricker-Gilbert, Amanda Billy, Tripp Miller, Clayton Levins and dozens of selfless others who put our JU family first even as their own homes and families were preparing for the storm.

What about the missed classes? Covered. Dr. Horner and our academic leadership team have already mapped out an innovative way to make up the six days of missed classes that our students deserve. You’ll hear more details soon. Our professors want to teach, and our students are clearly hungry to learn.

Our core food and facilities partner, ARAMARK, deserves our thanks. So does every tree trimmer, plumber, electrician, landscaper, roofer, drywaller, flooring guru and air conditioning expert. And our city-wide utilities friends, JEA. They're all working together, with us, choreographed to help rebuild our small city in just a few weeks.

So what can you do now? Stay fully engaged. Come home to see us. Homecoming is October 6-8, and we’ll be ready to welcome you back. Thanks to so many of you for your warm outpouring of support these past 10 days in all types of ways, especially on social media. I now invite you to keep going, to translate those written expressions of connection and support - for which we are enormously grateful - into answering a common rallying call: come back to campus. Plug back into the unique spirit, and heritage, of your University. Trust me: you will be energized.

And we will be proud and honored to host you.

With thanks and best regards,

Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981