Greetings from campus,
I hope each of you enjoyed a wonderful summer. Mine was busy supporting institutional priorities, playing some golf with friends and Drake alumni, and enjoying time spent with family in Des Moines and South Carolina.
Summer is always a welcome time for reflection and refocusing, but I am glad to be back in the swing of a new academic year. On Aug. 22, we welcomed 760 first year students to campus. The class of 2022 includes students from thirty states and nine countries. It is an honor to introduce students from our own backyard and around the world to all that Drake University and Des Moines have to offer. I know these students will go on to do amazing things in their time here.
I had the pleasure of meeting many students on Move-In Day in August. I truly enjoy the opportunity this day provides to connect with students and their families. Over the past few years, Laura and I have moved our own two sons into the Drake residence halls. I can relate to the feelings of excitement and anxiousness that come with this significant life transition and I can speak from experience to reassure families that every member of the Drake community will help these students acclimate to college life.
The new academic year has brought dramatic changes to the Drake campus. In a few weeks, we will dedicate the Robert D. and Billie Ray Promenade, which replaces the portion of 27th Street that previously ran between the Law School and Jewett Hall. The new walkway completes the transformation of the heart of our campus that started with the construction of Collier-Scripps Hall and the Science Connector Building. Through beautiful gardens and outdoor gathering areas, the Ray Promenade provides another place for our students, faculty, and alumni to gather and build community.
Along with the Ray Promenade, we are focusing on overhauling another important outdoor thoroughfare. Currently, we are working to define our plans with the city of Des Moines to reimagine University Avenue between 25th and 31st Streets. We envision a more pedestrian-friendly avenue that will encourage economic development and strengthen the connection between the neighborhood and the University.
Additionally, this summer we completed a transformation of the first floor of Cowles Library. With upgraded collaborative learning, reading, and study areas, the changes reflect the library’s important role as a community space for our students as well as life-long learners. If you are attending the Francis Marion Drake Society Dinner on Oct. 5, you will have the opportunity to see this remodel firsthand.
If your plans do not include our annual donor dinner, I hope you will find another time to return to campus to witness our progress, catch a football game, or enjoy one of our many fine arts performances. As always, I want to thank you for your generous contributions to Drake, which add to the vibrancy and vitality of our campus. We are only able to meet our mission promise because of your active engagement and generous support. I look forward to sharing additional updates during the academic year.