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Farewell from Dean Yongwu Rong

Dear Colleagues,

When I received a crystal apple at the GW Faculty Honors Ceremony in 2017, I realized I had been here for 25 years, and now even longer. This has been an incredible part of my career and life, especially the past five years when I had the opportunity to work with you in enhancing our research and in seeking opportunities in strategic initiatives. I am deeply grateful for the kind of advice, collegiality, help, and support from you all that has helped me to sail through this part of the journey of my life.

With mixed feelings of gratitude and sadness, I want to inform you of my plan to leave GW to pursue an opportunity at CUNY Queens College, where I will be Associate Provost for Research and International Programs. CCAS leadership has already identified an excellent replacement for me in the Dean's Office, and I will assist as needed throughout the transition.  I am sure this will lead to continued success in the research and academic enterprise at CCAS.

Let me share with you a little farewell message dedicated to you.  It is based on the Spanish song La Paloma and was shared with colleagues in the dean's office at a farewell event in honor of the four Associate/Vice Deans who are stepping down. You can laugh at me, but please don't cry.


La Paloma
– Dedicated to my Colleagues and Friends
YR, June 2019

Warm summer sun, shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind, blow softly here.
At Foggy Bottom we share our hearts,
as some of us will come to part.

Then you’ll find a dove, waiting at your window,
Singing a song through the window.
Let it come in and fly around you,
Its-heart-is mine as it-sings I love you 

Please don't cry when I step down today,
For Juliana 'n SRA team will make your day.
From Multi-School-Routing to O-VPR, from PI dashboard to CFR.
From Award set up to closing out, PI Effort Reports and we know how.
5 day rule 'n last min rescue u,
and a white dove with greetings from me to you

Please don't cry when I step down today,
You'll love your new ADR right away.
Faculty CAN / WoW- Taaalk, Res Update w Kristin's Support.
CCFF / Dean’s Research Chair, Res Blog will stay right here.
Strategic initiatives w ideas from you,
and a white-dove-with-greetings from me to you

Don't cry when-four-of-us-are stepping-down today,
Dean Wahlbeck will-lead-us-higher day after day.
From grad enrollment to diversity,
From 5 year plan to civility.
Baseball game and APR Review,
and a white dove with greetings from me to you.

Don't cry when-four-of-us-are stepping-down today,
We’ll have new Asso/Vice-Deans before it’s late.
From Freshmen Seminar to Ly-te-rati,
From GTA support to Roooound Robin.
Contract renew and sabbatical due,
and a white dove with greetings from me to you.

Don't cry when-four-of-us-are stepping-down today
Look at our very best who are here to stay.
Kim 'n Evie, Taoran 'n Cindy
Denise 'n  Cara, Max 'n Mafona
You'n you'n all of you
and a white dove with greetings from me to you
And a white dove with greetings from me to you!

Background of La Paloma: La Paloma was composed by a Spanish composer Sebastian Iradier after he visited Cuba in 1861, two years before he died in obscurity. He never knew how popular his song would become worldwide and in diverse cultures during the last 150 years. In Zanzibar "La Paloma" is played at the end of weddings, in Romania at the end of funerals, in Mexico as a protest song, and in Germany as a sailor’s lament, in some countries it is a quasi-folk song. In USA Elvis Plesley sang "La Paloma" (No More).

The motif of "La Paloma" (the dove) can be traced back to an episode that occurred in 492 BC, when a Persian fleet was caught in a storm off the shore of Mount Athos and wrecked. Greeks observed white doves escaping from the sinking Persian ships, a time when the white dove had not yet been seen in Europe. This inspired the notion that such birds bring home a final message of love from a sailor who is lost at sea.

This theme that a final link of love overcomes death and separation is reflected in "La Paloma". While the lyrics may not always be true to the original, the soul of the song seems to survive all attempts to recast it in whatever new form and shape there may be and is able to express the tension between separation with loneliness, even death, and love.

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