Holidays are often a time for family gatherings and homecomings. I am fortunate to be part of a large and extended family. When I was young, my parents would visit my mother’s parents on all of the major holidays; particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandparents lived on a farm where eleven of their twelve children were born (my aunt, Christy, was the twelfth and the only child to be born in a hospital). Six of my mother’s seven brothers served in World War II and the seventh served in the Korean Conflict. An older sister served as a nurse in the Army Air Corps. We were fortunate that all of them returned home safely at the wars’ end.

I believe that my grandmother viewed holidays as the opportunity to bring her family back together. It did not matter that she had to coordinate the logistics of preparing food for over fifty people at a time; it was a labor of love. Her daughters and daughters-in-law would bring dishes or specialties; and the grandchildren/cousins would sample them. One year, I remember gathering a healthy helping of what I presumed to be mashed potatoes only to find out that it was mashed turnips after taking my first bite. I always asked after that. After dinner, some or all of the forty plus cousins would gather for a football game or kick-the-can. We could usually count on a younger uncle or two to join us. Philosophically, I would not say that those were “the best years,” but those years have a fond place in my heart and in my memories.

Fast forward thirty years and I am married with twin daughters, Grace and Sarah. My wife, Sharon, is one of six children. Since her father retired and moved south twelve years ago, we (okay, I should not take the joint credit as Sharon does most of the work) have hosted her family at our house for Thanksgiving. Depending on college schedules, marriages, births, etc., the attendance ranges from thirty-five to forty-five people. While we do not live on a farm and there’s usually not a traditional football game, the cousins seem to value their times together as an extended family. As an adult, I find that one of my more interesting observations every year is how much my nieces and nephews have grown physically and matured since the previous gathering. I generally avoid thinking that the same is true about the adults; at least the aging part. I still learn, laugh, and share good times with my in-laws and nieces and nephews; just sometimes from a different perspective than many years ago.

Enjoy the holiday season and if you are able to find the time to visit, call, or write your family, enjoy that time as well.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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