Change unexpected

Sometimes change hits you between the eyes.

That’s the way the JMU community, especially the physics department, is feeling the week after losing a beloved professor and friend, Don Chodrow, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

The University of Virginia is currently dealing with another unexpected change wrought in the cloistered rooms of their Board of Visitors.

And all of us are awaiting what, if any, changes the United States Supreme Court will produce when they rule on the controversial health care law.

Change is not always comfortable. It is certainly not always pleasant and light-hearted. Change is sometimes ignoble, painful and lacking in heroics. But change no matter how difficult always presents opportunities.

It is how we adapt, adjust, accept or answer the unexpected change that can turn negatives into positives. Whether forced change is institutional or providential, it alters us all, and how we adjust makes all the difference.

JMU will miss terribly the presence and the influence of Don Chodrow who “always had a hand on the rudder of the ship that is Physics and Astronomy,” a colleague wrote on the department’s blog. “We will continue in his absence for he would have it no other way, but without his steady hand our direction is just a bit less well-defined.”

Even with this heartbreaking change, the groundwork he laid as a professor through the hundreds of lives he touched will endure, and the careers of those he taught will create an even greater wave of influence.

English: Panorama of the west facade of at dus...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether the UVA board was right or wrong to depose President Sullivan will be debated for decades; what won’t be debated is the need for leadership of a university to be transparent and forthright.

Even an unmitigated disaster as we’ve seen in Charlottesville will likely result in changes that strengthen all higher education in Virginia.

And regardless of how the Supreme Court rules this week, we will begin to adjust. That’s what civilized people do. We move ahead and we make the best of what we have to work with. The principle works on every level: individual, corporate and governmental.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once said, “Discord is a sign of progress afoot; unease is an indication that a society has let go of what it knows and is working out something better and new.”

It is awful to lose a beloved professor, but perhaps how we adapt to unexpected change signals that we are moving ahead, changing for the better, making our universities, nations and ourselves stronger and wiser.

Unexpected change, no matter how painful or disruptive, can become opportunity.

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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