Dear A&S students, faculty and staff,
I hope this email finds you doing well during this very challenging time.
You’ll note that this message is addressed to our entire Arts and Sciences campus community. That’s in contrast with most communications I send, which often contain information specifically for faculty, students, or staff. However, today I thought it most important to write to all 6,600 of us! I do so in order to remind us that we belong to a large, strong and caring A&S family. As another reminder of that, please see the end of this message to learn how you can share ways you are staying healthy, grounded, or connected.*
But first, let me extend my great appreciation to every one of you:
- Faculty, your efforts to pivot to online instruction have been nothing short of herculean. Instead of taking a much-needed breather during spring break, you sprang into action to convert lessons and course materials, learn new technologies, respond to countless questions from concerned students and families—and all while juggling child, parent, and partner care.
- Staff, you’ve been facing similar challenges in carrying on the College’s mission as you seek to advise students virtually, support faculty, keep your teams and projects on track, or adjust to different duties because your usual work cannot be done remotely. And all this while children and partners may be home too.
- Students, your worlds were upended in the blink of an eye! Though it was absolutely the right thing to do to move the semester online and for many of you to return home, I know that COVID-19 has deferred or transformed so many of your plans and dreams. As your dean and as an A&S parent, these realities deeply sadden me. But they also strengthen my resolve to help you weather these challenges so you continue to flourish.
On a final note, please consider that with all the tools of connectivity available today, we can be much closer now, at least virtually, than we could have been even a few years ago. Remember, too, that the liberal arts give us timeless resources for coping in the forms of philosophy, literature, science, art, music, religion, and so much more. They can also guide us in our daily actions to think more freely (how can I combat misinformation?), act more ethically (why should I not hoard supplies?), and live more decisively (how can I help my neighbors/community?) during this historic moment.
So as we all move through this first week of remote learning, know that it is new and daunting for all of us. I encourage you to stay in touch with your advisor, your colleagues, and your friends. We are in this together—and we will get through it together.
Dean Karin Ruhlandt
* We each have different ways of coping with unsettled feelings, such as meditation or working outdoors. Is there some activity or special item in your living space that helps you get through the day? Share a photo with us! Suggestions include: selfies of you remotely learning or working (pets, children, family welcome), nature views or your favorite culinary creation. Even a handmade sign with words of encouragement for the A&S family would be great!
Please email your photo to ASNews@syr.edu for potential posting on the A&S website or our social media platforms. I would also encourage you to share positive tips on your social media accounts using the hashtag #ArtsSci2Gether.