August 19, 2020

"Welcome Back???"


Students either have returned already to most of our campuses or they will be returning shortly.  Likewise, both virtual and face-to-face classes have also begun or will do so in the next few days.    Everyone has completed ambitious plans that include multiple scenarios of operation.  Safeguards and precautions aplenty have been implemented.  Further, as we learned in last Friday’s AABHE’s ongoing Webinar Series, “The Impact of the Pandemic on Colleges and Universities:  Re-Opening Campus in the Midst of a Pandemic”, all of these preparations are tempered with a great deal of uncertainty.  Witness the poor student behavior that has already sent several universities to an all-virtual instruction.   So just exactly what are we coming back to?   

20191011_Office of Diversity_04LSUF copy

One of my favorite television programs from back in the day was “Welcome Back, Kotter”.  Kotter was a New York City high school teacher who had returned to his alma mater to try to give something back.  He was surrounded by one of television’s most diverse casts of “students” (in quotes here because the actors were all way too old to be high schoolers) who were affectionately called “the Sweathogs”.  This iconic show featured iconic characters each with popular catch-phrases: Vinnie Barbarino’s, “Up your nose with a rubber hose”; Freddy ‘Boom-Boom’ Washington’s, “Hi there!”; Juan Epstien’s, “I got a note”, and Arnold Horshach’s, “Oh! Oh! Oh!”.  They all were misfits neatly knit together by their teacher, Mr. Gabe Kotter.

The show boasted one of the all-time great theme songs that included the following lines:

“Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about
Well the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they've turned around
Who'd have thought they'd lead ya, Back here where we need ya!”

And so, like Mr. Kotter, we are back to “that same old place” but “those dreams” that remained have been “turned around”.  We’re in the same places but it is a totally different time.  Nonetheless, much like Gabe did, we need to continue the good work that our students need us to do.  And while the only thing that is certain is the uncertainty, we are exactly where “they need us”…for now. Stay tuned…


  • Huge shout out to charter board member, Dr. Pete Silver and the LMI alumni.  Last month, Dr. Silver issued a 5-day, $5,000 fundraising matching challenge to the LMI Alums.  Kudos to the alumni who donated the necessary funds to meet Dr. Silver’s goal.  Silver, the inaugural director of LMI, was impressed but not surprised and thrilled that his challenge raised over $10,000 for AABHE’s Leadership Mentoring Institute. By the way, his gift of $5000 has already been received. Way to teach leadership by example, Pete!  Who’s next?

  • Last week our fourth installment of our Webinar Series, The Impact of the Pandemic on Colleges and Universities:  Re-Opening Campus in the Midst of a Pandemic was well attended, quite informative, and overall a huge success.  Thanks to all who participated.  

  • Plans are underway for our 2021 AABHE Virtual Annual Conference.  We will be delivering as much of our regular annual conference content as we can possibly deliver in an online format.  Great speakers, panels, sessions, awards, and even social events are all being planned.  “See you” next March…

“It’s all about the students”,

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE