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In this season of gratitude, I’m grateful for our incredible community

As our autumn quarter draws to a close and we look ahead to the start of a new year, I am deeply grateful for the rekindled sense of community and togetherness that has marked these first months of our academic year.

Togetherness arises in many ways across our three campuses – it happens in gatherings like W Day and Family Weekend, in celebrating the UW men’s soccer team’s Pac-12 championship or in Husky Stadium where our Husky football team was unbeatable this season. It happens when we join forces with community partners to create positive change in our communities, from the Rainier Valley to eastern Washington. It happens when we share an experience like the first snowfall of the year.

It was especially wonderful to return in-person Regents meetings this year, including on our beautiful Tacoma campus, and to celebrate the opening and groundbreaking of vital new facilities that will spur learning and discovery. And what at thrill to once again experience live music and dance performances at the Meany Center, not to mention students dancing in the middle of Red Square.

The return to being in community is important for many reasons. Community ties anchor and strengthen us as individuals; they enable us to be resilient, to ask for help and to help others in need. Community forges our shared capacity for collaboration, partnership and creating a more equitable, healthy, sustainable world. It is the foundation on which our public mission to spark and accelerate change for the public good rests.

Your contributions are crucial to creating the change that adds to the public good. It takes place in the arts, through the accomplishments of our alumni, in our faculty’s expertise and public scholarship, in student leadership and in world-changing research by UW scientists and scholars. It’s present in communities throughout Washington and across the world. For a look at some great examples of our community’s collective work, check out these stories from throughout the year.

Without question, our world faces serious challenges, including the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and threats to democracy, all of which are compounded by persistent systemic racism and inequities. I am deeply grateful for the commitment of so many leaders, individuals and teams across the University who are dedicated to solving these complex, interdisciplinary problems with innovative and collaborative approaches.

I’m especially grateful to everyone who has contributed to our community staying safe and healthy as the pandemic has waned. While COVID has by no means disappeared, and we should all continue to take needed precautions, as a community, we have avoided any major disruptions to university operations throughout the fall, thanks to your diligence and care for one another

I wish you a restorative and joyful winter break and very happy holidays if you celebrate. I hope you will join me in rooting for the Huskies when they take on the Longhorns at the Alamo Bowl on December 29th and I look forward to the start of another year in which we do our best work for the common good together.