Before Closing the Chapter as Provost
By now, many of you have heard of my intention to step down from the provost position on or around Sept. 1. The last 10 years as provost at Georgia Tech have been a dream job and now it is time to do something else. I tell my children — I have been having too much fun and it’s time to figure out what I will do when I grow up.
A lot has been accomplished over the last decade, most of it good. I am proud. But there is a lot more to do, and now I have only eight months to do it! So, I will refrain from taking the normal stroll down memory lane until later – right now, it is business as usual and there’s one project that I’m particularly excited to complete.
By spring, renovations will be complete on both buildings of the Georgia Tech Libraries and the full move-in process will begin for “Library Next.” From the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons to the Crosland Tower, we will enjoy an integrated complex of what I like to call “a collection of gathering places with different flavors, appealing to every taste.”
The new “library,” for lack of a more descriptive name, will become an integral part of the academic fabric of Georgia Tech. I am not talking about a place where one only goes to study, or a place where one gets unique access to digital information (or hard copy – delivered to you from the off-campus service center), but a place proactively delivering content and educational opportunity.
I imagine library faculty developing and/or facilitating minimester courses —perhaps on design, business development, current events, issues of social justice, or innovation and creativity — a lot in partnerships with the colleges. I can imagine curation of online courses and promoting lifetime education. More importantly, I want to walk into the building and have them recognize me, and based on my interests, suggest courses, content, etc.
I can imagine the new Georgia Tech library as the place to go to debate current events, or brainstorm about our latest ideas. I repeat what I have said before, the new library - Clough through Crosland – will be the physical and intellectual center of Georgia Tech, the place everyone will visit. To complete this dream, we must change culture and function, and get the resources to complete the technology necessary to facilitate the new functions. Both are work in progress. To my colleagues, I ask to accelerate the transformation by retooling our library offerings and uses. To our friends, donors, and all of us working on resource development, I say this is the opportunity to do something truly transformational for Georgia Tech – now.
I said I would not use this blog to recount memories and successes, but I want to use a few words to reflect on the meaning of success. A few weeks ago, my wife and I were invited by good friends, Professor Aris Georgakakos and Leslie Blythe, to a Christmas party at their home. As the piano player guided us through the traditional carols I could not help but to reflect on the scene I was witnessing. Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, atheists, men, women, professors, students, young, old, poor and rich were all singing their hearts out – without inhibitions or concerns of any type.
Music is indeed the universal language that can speak to the good in all of us. That scene reminded me of what our country was and should once again be. It reminded me of the need to redefine success and acceptability not by our religion, our ethnicity, our language, our gender or chosen expression, or by how much money we make, but by how we behave and how much good we do in life.
I am so grateful for my time as provost and for you, my Georgia Tech family. I look forward to closing this chapter and to continuing on as a professor at Georgia Tech. My time at Tech has been a true personal and professional pleasure and I am excited for what’s next.
-Rafael L. Bras