DEI's Corner: The Sunflower

College of Education

SUMMARY: When we collaborate and celebrate one another we have sunflowers all year round!

DEI’s Corner by Dr. Oris Griffin

The Sunflower 

Last week I took the opportunity to visit the new Van Gogh Art Exhibit in Washington, DC – what a treat. This is the second time that I have been still long enough to compare, metaphorically, how Mother Nature shifts in cycles even within the College of Education. Would you please indulge me while I attempt to explain this phenomenon using Van Gogh’s paintings? Now, I have always been one who could easily walk through an entire museum and wonder how a piece of art even made it into a museum. Sometimes even thinking to myself and shaking my head, “What in the world was he thinking”? A considerable part of Van Gogh’s exhibit was Sunflowers, which were among his most famous works. Some of his works went for over $87 million!  

When I walked into the gallery and saw a wall full of these flowers, I thought to myself, "OK, what’s the story behind the Sunflower? I don’t even like sunflowers - this is going to be a long walk." I decided to give it a chance. I read the story behind each picture, and each story built upon the other.  Each story was stronger than the one before it. Even the sunflowers that were wilted were strong; seeds that had fallen were even stronger still.  And guess what? They were all in the same vase – seeds, flowers and flowerless stems!  You see, I learned a precious lesson on Friday that I hope I can explain here for you.  

In the College of Education, we are all Sunflowers.  There are seasons where we all shine bright, brilliant and strong, even.  We are all on the same page and headed in the same direction.  What a beautiful vase we are. Our classes are going well, we are publishing papers, writing books, sending shoes to folks around the world and providing service to the community and to our professions.   All is good with the world.  Then there are those seasons in the College when we are dormant, we didn't get the paper accepted, or we didn't get the grant.  During those times, we must allow those seeds to lay dormant, for they will germinate and come to life again.  Colleagues, we are surrounded by some powerhouse colleagues doing incredible work.  We must celebrate them in their season.  Likewise, when we need encouragement, we need to allow them to help us until we can take root and shine again.  It's elementary; we are all Sunflowers at some point and germinating seeds at another – we are always working. Sometimes it's just below the surface.  I wish we could be Sunflowers most days, but when we are not, we are simply getting the nourishment to come back to be a stronger Sunflower in the College of Education. 

 When we collaborate and celebrate one another we have Sunflowers all year round!  Thank you for what you do on behalf of the College of Education!

Wishing you a wonderful winter break!

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Published: Sunday, December 12, 2021

Last Updated: Monday, January 9, 2023

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