Home Uncategorized The Disappearing Art of the Handwritten Note

The Disappearing Art of the Handwritten Note


I was going through some old files the other day and stumbled across a handwritten note from a former colleague of mine.  Reading the note again triggered memories about that particular time of my life and my career.  Later, I thought about other notes I had received over the years and how the art of the handwritten note seems to be disappearing.

I attended a private school, McDonogh School in Baltimore, from seventh through twelfth grades.  There were two deans at the school who kept boxes of Crane & Co. note cards on their desks.  Whenever a student (or an alum) accomplished something notable, one of them would send a handwritten note.  Their penmanship was excellent and their ability to say something gracious and kind about your achievement was remarkable as well.

I don’t recall receiving similar notes when I attended college, but the decade of the 1970’s was a little tumultuous on college campuses.  Later, I remember a partner I worked for at Price Waterhouse who made it his practice to send handwritten notes to associates and clients at appropriate times.

Maybe it was the implementation of email, or perhaps voicemail that sharply curtailed the distribution of handwritten notes.  The dynamics after 9-11-2001 changed the way we correspond with government officials, leaving us with email or fax as the best option instead of a handwritten note that might take two months to go through special screening.  I opted not to contact the kind folks at Crane & Co. or look for confirming research.  That would have seemed too cold and impersonal.

For me, a handwritten note still conveys a personal touch and the implied message that the sender took the time to remember me for something I did.  Oddly enough, most of the notes that I receive these days are from colleagues in the education field.  Critics of our education system might say that this habit reflects the dynamics of an unchanging industry.  I choose to think that it reflects the ingrained nature of an educator to recognize that simple recognition of accomplishments can inspire all of us to achieve our potential and beyond.

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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