Today's (Morning) Update: Friday, January 6, 2023

January 6, 2023

Dear Student Life team, 

This is the time of year when our minds turn to new beginnings. And for me, it’s especially true because today marks three years since my beginning as a Buckeye! What a truly phenomenal, whirlwind of a time it has been. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing institution and this extraordinary Student Life family!

As you may know, since joining Ohio State I’ve honored each new year by selecting a “word of the year” that is intended to guide my thoughts, inspire action, center my days and align my connection to others. Throughout winter break, I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of reading. There was one theme that kept repeating in all the books I read, so much so that I think this year’s word picked ME, rather than me picking it: Gratitude. Or as my friend and colleague Bern Melnyk says, “Vitamin G.”

You may have heard there is growing collection of scientific evidence about how acts or expressions of gratitude can have all sorts of positive benefits…for ourselves and others. If you’re interested in the topic, this article is a great one.

For me, I have come to find that by focusing on gratefulness, it helps me reframe the sad, stressful and sorrow-filled times of life. It doesn’t make those feelings go away, but it reminds me to seek (and hopefully find!) sparkles of hope. On Monday, I and many others lost one of the Student Affairs profession’s brightest stars and biggest inspirations, Dr. Theresa Powell, Vice President for Student Affairs at Temple University. She was a friend, mentor, cheerleader and role model for so many in the field and countless students whose lives she touched over the years. Since hearing the news it has been so easy to focus on the pain, loss and even anger that such a phenomenal person was taken too soon…and I have found some comfort in tipping those feelings upside down and exploring how fortunate I am to have been inspired and taught by her, and what an unfortunate, yet important, opportunity we now have to honor her legacy in a meaningful and lasting way. This doesn’t take away the grief, but it gives it a positive path to follow through our hearts.

So, that’s my word of the year: Gratitude. And I am committed to feeling gratitude, sharing gratitude and not taking anything, or anyone, for granted. And today, once again, I want you to know that I am emphatically Scarlet and Grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for making my job so rewarding, fun and fulfilling – there is no other team I would rather be on!

How about you? Do you have a word of the year, or maybe a phrase that you live by? I’d love to hear about it.

Happy (almost) Spring Semester – I hope it’s a Scarlet and Great one.


Melissa S. Shivers, PhD 

Senior Vice President for Student Life 
The Ohio State University