Visit to Normandy


Aug. 20, 2018

By Shane Burgess, University of Arizona Vice President for Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension

The new semester is upon us. I hope the summer worked out well for you professionally, but even more so, personally. I hope you were able to recharge and catch up with those close to you. Perhaps do something you needed to get done, but just couldn’t get to, or you got to do something you’d always wanted to do. This was the case for me. Jenny and I visited Normandy, France, where, amongst other things, we saw the enormity of the WWII invasion of D-Day and the lasting impact of the Battle for Normandy.

This is a trip we’d always wanted to do and one thing left the greatest impression on me. It’s commonplace for people to discuss the D-Day invasion, and the ensuing Battle for Normandy, in the context of the political times, of logistics or of incredible individual human heroics—certainly our theatres focus on the latter.

But what hit me the most is the same thing that impacts me the most here at the University of Arizona. There were hundreds of thousands of soldiers involved on both sides who will remain anonymous to almost everyone. For every soldier there were 27 support people on the Allied side alone extending right back to U.S. factories and farms, and they were also anonymous. And there were all of the soldiers’ family members. There were tens of thousands of French civilians killed and many more impacted in other ways. Each person, whether we will ever hear their name or not, had a full and complex and detailed story. Each is part of who we are today.

Of course, our students and their families and stakeholders are central to what we do, whether we get to know them in person or not. Everyone who works in our organization is important. We can’t fully deliver on our missions that change lives for the better without you and without many other people in our organization whom you may never meet.

Finding out about you, what you think and your story is the most important part of my job. Luckily for me, it’s also the best part of my job. This is what I Iook forward to the most each day and I hope we’ll get a chance to talk this semester.




Media contact:
Bethany Rutledge, director of administration and communications