On giving thanks


President Barnett at the Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, visiting with alumni such as Senior Vice-President Shellee Spring ’88 (left)


We live in a time when we are inundated on a daily basis with news about the problems and challenges of the world in which we live. The sheer volume of information we consume could make it easy for even the most optimistic of us to be disheartened at times. While living our busy lives in the midst of this maelstrom, we often forget to stop and focus upon those things for which we should be thankful.

Which is why I am so thankful for the very observance of Thanksgiving itself.

Nothing is more fulfilling than engaging in some quiet reflection during this time of the year about the many ways in which we have been blessed. I truly believe this is a practice that is essential to living a quality, well-rounded life. So whether it’s a loving family or spouse; sound physical health and a good job; or maybe that we live in a society where we are free to do, say and be whatever we want to be, all of us have at least something for which we are thankful.

For me, the privilege of leading this incredible university as president for the past 27 years is always near the top of my annual list of thanks. I have been fortunate to get to know generations of bright, talented young people who came to us as students here at William Woods, and then watched them go on to successful careers and lives. I have always responded when asked about children that I indeed have hundreds of children – all of them graduates of William Woods University!

I was reminded of this very feeling just a few weeks ago, when I had the chance to visit and catch up with a number of our alumni who work for one of Missouri’s most impressive and growing companies, the Cerner Corporation in Kansas City. We currently have 29 alums working for Cerner, highlighted by the company’s Senior Vice-President of Ambulatory Services, Shellee Spring ’88.

After our visit, Shellee sent me a note that said, “you and your leadership team have done great things at William Woods and it is evident in the talented graduates who have joined the Cerner team. I have been extremely impressed and am proud to network with them as WWU alumni!”

Equally as gratifying is hearing from our parents. Like the letter I received recently that said, “I just want to say thank you for the very big role you played in my son’s life. Over the last four years, you have not only influenced him in so many ways, but thousands of others at William Woods.” Or another parent who wrote “I just came back from an amazing visit to your campus, and felt the need to let you know personally how amazing your student body, faculty and staff were. We were just completely blown away with just how truly great everyone is at William Woods University!”

There have been countless reminders like these over the past 27 years, and many of them come flooding back to me during this special time of year. I simply could not be more thankful and blessed to have built my professional life around William Woods University.

Happy Thanksgiving!