Dear A&S faculty and staff,
When I sat down to write this holiday message, I struggled at first. How could I convey hope and gratitude against the backdrop of this year’s unthinkable challenges? How would I find the right words, when so much had been “wrong?”
Then it occurred to me. I didn’t have to find the right words. They’d already been coined by people around the world. Words and phrases like contact tracing and flattening the curve. Zoombombing and Blursday. Super spreader, learning pods, contactless delivery. And most fitting in this moment, essential personnel.
That last term is most often used for frontline workers who are indispensable in keeping us healthy, safe, fed and functioning. As I acknowledge them with deep respect, I’d like to offer the thought that you were also essential this year, just in a different way. While many in our community toiled to flatten the curve of COVID-19, you were scrambling to sustain the arc of our students’ learning and growth. You converted courses, learned new technologies, arranged virtual advising opportunities and so much more. It was you who gave students the fuel and focus to keep on track, even as so many of their normal activities became unavailable or unsafe in the circumstances. It was you who were a lodestar in an uncharted sky.
For the foreseeable future, the challenges of COVID remain. But there are glimmers of dawn before us. For one, the end of the fall semester offers the promise of some dearly needed rest. I encourage you to “power down” as best as your situation allows, and hope that you can give your body and mind the respite they so richly deserve. In the slightly longer-term, I urge you to keep your eyes and hearts trained on the promise of the new year. Across the globe, the best scientific minds have engineered effective vaccines, and they are starting to roll out as I type.
I’ll close by wishing you and yours a safe break and happy holidays. It is a privilege to work alongside such dedicated, resilient (and no doubt exhausted) educators and administrators. Thank you for everything that you did this year. You are an incredible quaranteam.