Skip to content

Celebrating an extraordinary year of returning traditions and new norms

This week marks the end of our academic year and a joyful return to many of the spring traditions that were on hiatus during the worst years of the pandemic: the Faculty Field Tour, the Celebration gala, the Awards of Excellence ceremony on June 9 and of course, in-person commencement exercises, including the long-anticipated in-person graduation celebrations for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Congratulations to our 2022 graduates in Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma and to everyone who will cross the stage during the ceremonies for all three campuses.

These returning events — and so many others across our campuses — are the culmination of an academic year in which most of us returned to our classrooms, labs and offices, while also continuing some work in a hybrid mode, beginning the work of constructing a new normal. I am inspired by and grateful for the hard work, dedication and creativity that has enabled us to continue learning, discovering and serving the public as a community of colleagues, classmates and friends, while also finding our way through a challenging time of transition, ongoing challenges and continued uncertainty.

Our public service mission has only grown in importance and urgency as we reflect on what we learned from the experience of the pandemic and the serious challenges that imperil our most deeply held values and principles. Higher education — particularly a public research university such as ours — has a critical role to play in preserving and advancing our democratic values, human rights, and healthy people and communities. Our University is a place where talented students have access to a world-class education regardless of their means, where research and innovation are constantly expanding understanding and opportunity, as well as economic development throughout our region. It is a place where we are deeply engaged with all our communities in advocating to better people’s lives, and where patients are healed and treated.

Thank you to everyone whose work and learning has contributed to these vital endeavors and every member of our Husky family. Thank you to the people who have continued to work in person throughout the pandemic, serving students, patients and all who depend on uninterrupted operations. Thank you to the health-care workers and public health experts whose efforts have been essential to saving lives throughout our community, to caring for and restoring the health of so many, and to creating the conditions for our safe and successful return to in-person work and learning. Thank you to the faculty and students whose resilience, empathy and adaptability enabled the reopening of so many labs and classrooms. Thank you to the incredible staff who continued their work of public service, often while short-staffed and adapting to changing work environments. It is an extraordinary privilege to lead a community so deeply invested in creating positive impact in the world.

As we conclude this academic year, I look forward to continuing our mission together, including continued in-person work and learning during summer sessions and into our next academic year. As always, we will listen to and follow the guidance of public health officials and our own experts, but I join them in being optimistic that we remain on a pathway of recovery. I know that our community has the desire, will and ability to transform the world for the better and that together we can meet the challenges that lie ahead with empathy and integrity and with a focus on equity. I wish everyone a wonderful summer, and I look forward to our next chapter.