Office of the President

March 20, 2020

Our Husky family will get through this together

Ana Mari Cauce

This message was sent to UW alumni and friends across Washington and around the world.

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Just three weeks ago, life at the University of Washington, in our region and then in our state and country, began to change for all of us when we learned that COVID-19 was spreading through community transmission. As of today, more than 80 people have died in Washington state, including one of our own professors, and our hearts go out to their families. UW Medicine, public health experts and countless health-care professionals are leading heroic efforts locally and around the globe to fight COVID-19 — to save lives, prevent the disease’s spread and find the vaccine and treatments that will vanquish it from our communities. At the same time, the UW and most universities in the country have moved to remote instruction for thousands of students and telework for most employees. It is a time of loss and determination, innovation and compassion. The importance and impact of our work as a public research university with a medical system has never been more clear.

For all of us — near and far — the world has changed quickly and forever. We have learned our daily routines and responsibilities can be disrupted almost overnight; we have new phrases that define our reality, such as “social distancing” and “flattening the curve.” Events have been cancelled; jobs have been lost; retirements have been delayed. We are reminded how much we all rely on each other and how, through our decisions, we can protect our neighbors, older adults and those most susceptible to this virus. At the same time, we are learning that feelings of isolation and uncertainty when we’re stuck at home can take their toll. We retain a strong need to be loving, productive and secure, and we are acutely aware of the need to extend grace to one another as we adjust and make do.

But we are learning other things, too. Our UW community is hardy and optimistic, and the life of our University continues. There is a reason we are ranked the most innovative public university in the world, and we are innovating quickly. Our faculty are working swiftly and creatively to ensure that our students’ UW education, whether delivered in person or online, is still of the highest quality possible. We are also focused on keeping our students connected to wellness and mental health services, advising and virtual connections to reduce feelings of disconnection and isolation. Our students — whose lives and educations have been disrupted — have demonstrated incredible resilience, kindness and leadership. I am particularly impressed with our student leaders, as they have carried the message to students on the importance of social distancing to protect others, including UW students with underlying health concerns and faculty and staff who may be susceptible. This year’s senior class gifts are being designated to emergency funds for students in need. And we are welcoming thousands of newly admitted Huskies into next year’s entering class — sharing our campuses with them virtually and preparing them for life as a Husky.

Our world-changing research continues, as labs and clinics work to modify operations to protect their employees but also carry forward decades of work with the potential to prevent future crises. We also continue to provide the critical clinical services in multiple fields that so many people depend on.

Our University — YOUR University — has weathered crises before; we will do so again. Generations of Huskies have built, through good times and bad, the foundation of our response to this virus today. In this rapidly changing environment, we will continue to be informed by state and local mandates, as well as public health guidance, as we prioritize the health and safety of our students, employees, patients and everyone in the broader community.

Thank you for the outpouring of support, friendship and offers of help that have come from so many of you. This crisis has illustrated what a profoundly generous and courageous community our Husky family is. You truly inspire and invigorate those on the front lines of this crisis and all of us at the UW making decisions on behalf of your University. For those who have asked what they can do to help, we have put together a list of our most critical needs at Together We Will.

Above all, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. In this new and uncertain landscape, I have never been more grateful for our community. The ties that unite our Husky family are strong. Together with the strength of the University you have built, we will care for and lead our community and the world forward.

Sincerely,

Ana Mari Cauce
President
Professor of Psychology