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Tuesday
December 07th, 2021
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dennis sanderSAINTS PERSPECTIVE, Dennis Sander, SCCC Interim President

 

As a youngster, I always reminded my family that my November birthday needed celebrating before we started getting ready for Christmas.  While I still remind my own family of the same thing, I am also known for waiting until Thanksgiving is over before I get geared up for Advent and Christmas.   

As the college prepares for the arrival of Dr. Greg Gunderson, I am compelled to reflect on the past six months that I have been interim president, and the gratitude I have for the students, staff, and supporters of SCCC.  While I have been grateful to work with the people of SCCC and Liberal the entire time I have been here, the past six months has allowed me to experience that gratitude in a uniquely profound way as the interim president. 

A couple of weeks ago was Veterans Day, and I took that opportunity at SCCC in a campus-wide e-mail, to acknowledge our veterans – both our students and staff who have served our country in the armed services.  I shared my personal story of having American flags in my home that represent the service of my departed father and grandfather, who served in World War II and I, respectively.  Thus, I am always reminded of the sacrifices they made to defend our country, and particularly that of my uncle, who as a pilot in World War II, was hit by enemy fire while transporting G.I.s in Germany.  He made the ultimate sacrifice in the ensuing crash, while most of the men on the plane were able to parachute to safety. 

I was also reminded of a time when I was a boy watching a television series entitled “Combat.”  While watching the show, I turned to my dad and said,   “It must have been cool to have been in the war.”  My dad imparted a somber message to his son at that moment.  He said, “Dennis, there is nothing cool about war.  War is hell; it is not glorious.”  I never watched the show again.  Since that time, what I have considered glorious is the sacrifice, commitment, and resolve of the men and women who serve to protect and defend our country to this very day.   

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In response to my e-mail, I received many replies of gratitude for the acknowledgement, and their personal stories of the sacrifices of their friends and families in the armed services – ranging from the World Wars through Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan.  Those responses are a reminder to me of what current and future resolve lies within our community to preserve and improve our way of life.    

Many years ago, I was listening to a Sunday sermon that emphasized that sacrifice is the language of love.  Recently I have witnessed the sacrifice and resolve of our faculty and administration as they prepared for rigorous accreditation visits.  I have witnessed the sacrifice and resolve of our COVID team to keep constant vigilance and make sound judgements in the interest of the safety of our students and staff during the ongoing pandemic.  I have witnessed the sacrifice and resolve of co-workers and students as they dealt with profound sickness and loss, and yet continue to pursue excellence in their work and studies.  I have listened to the stories of immigrants who were political prisoners - the sacrifices they made to be here, and the warnings they have of communism and complacency.  These sacrifices are the language of love in our community.  A love that is transcendent of any labels. 

While I continue to be humbled to be a part of this community, I am not surprised by what they achieve.  In my address to the campus this past August, I asked faculty and staff to draw on the strength within them; to reach out and lift up their colleagues; and to continue to draw the best from those we serve and teach.  I am both proud and grateful to say that we have remained true to that pledge during this time of transition.  With the upcoming leadership and vision of Dr. Gunderson, we will continue to meet our challenges, continue to prosper, and continue to make SCCC second to none. 

 

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