Office of the President

June 8, 2021

With hope on the horizon, thank you for an incredible year of service

Ana Mari Cauce

As we conclude one of the most unconventional years in our University’s history, I was reflecting on my message to campus at this time last year, when we still could not imagine the full scope and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic that lay ahead. Now, with safe and effective COVID vaccines available and infection rates dropping in many parts of the world, we can be confident that when our 2021–22 academic year begins, it will be with a return to rich, in-person, on-campus communities of students, faculty and staff working together to advance learning, discovery and public service.

This past year has presented us with so many challenges — not only as members of our University community, but for all of us as individuals doing our best to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and thriving. As we each grappled with the many constraints of the pandemic, we also reckoned with a renewed awareness: systemic racism and the inequities it has caused and continues to cause. And while we all hope that increased awareness of this reality will catalyze lasting change, we must also acknowledge the pain and suffering that BIPOC people have endured and are enduring because of it. Above all, we must continue and expand our work to advance equity and end discrimination and injustice.

Yet despite these mounting and overlapping adversities, our community has achieved something incredible — not just sustaining our commitment to our mission, but strengthening it. This weekend, we will celebrate the members of the graduating class of 2021, who have set a new bar for perseverance and adaptability. It will be a fascinating and joyful experience to watch this extraordinary class expand its impact on the world. Faculty and academic personnel worked tirelessly to enable all our students to keep pursuing their goals and dreams, demonstrating the empathy, talent, creativity and expertise that make our University excellent. Staff across every unit, whether they were onsite keeping our campuses running or performing their jobs from home, have been essential to meeting the challenges of this unprecedented year.

As we begin to contemplate a post-pandemic world, there are so many people and organizations across the University that deserve credit for their work to understand, treat and fight the virus and its repercussions. Thank you to the many researchers, frontline workers and health-care providers who worked bravely and tirelessly to keep people safe and treat the sick. And thank you to everyone in our community who helped with testing patients and in the ongoing work to equitably distribute the vaccines. Society owes you all a debt that can never be repaid.

For many of us, this is a moment for hope, even as many parts of the world continue to struggle to end the pandemic, and we should all continue to follow public health guidelines to keep the virus from resurging. And however hopeful we feel, we must not lose sight of the lessons we learned this year — they include the innovations and advancements made in so many arenas of learning and working. They also includes lessons learned about what could be done differently when — not if — a new novel disease arises and as we face other large-scale crises.

We know the future holds big challenges, some that we can see on the horizon and others we can’t yet predict. Whatever it brings, I am so grateful to be heading into the future with this outstanding community of people who care about learning, discovery and our mission of public service. I wish you and everyone a healthy and fantastic summer. I can’t wait for us to be back together next fall.