Dear faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends,
During the nine months I have served as interim dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, we have worked together on unfathomable challenges.
Last fall was both rewarding and exciting. It was the kind of term that we have come to expect, with students returning to campus, the arrival of new faculty and staff, and of course, all the fun things we love about the fall. Having a football program reach the national championship added to the excitement and the fellowship all of us enjoyed on weekends in the fall. The trip to New Orleans was complemented by cooler weather and our favorite holidays.
Given all of this, it is hard to comprehend where we find ourselves today.
By February 2020, things had begun to change rapidly. With the spread of the coronavirus throughout Asia and most of Europe, it became necessary to ask all our study abroad students to come home. At first many students asked if they could stay overseas so they could continue to enjoy their international experience, living and working in a different culture while inspired by their instructors. It quickly became evident that everyone needed to return to the United States. This was no small task. What impressed me most about the College’s response to this challenge was our faculty and staff, who without hesitation did everything needed to bring our students home and ensure they could complete the spring semester on time. This required a lot of collaboration with the rest of the University, our international partners, the State Department and, in some cases, the airlines. We were all relieved when our students were safely back.
What happened beginning in early March was unprecedented in my lifetime. These changes in our personal lives and how universities operate will redefine higher education for months if not years to come. Not knowing how long it will take to return to anything close to normal is clearly causing considerable anxiety.
That said, our College’s programs are strong and resilient, thanks to our incredibly talented and dedicated people. It took a monumental team effort to transition to online learning, ensuring that our students could remain safe and continue their studies. As I mentioned last month, we are all in this together and we are not alone. We are receiving incredible support from the rest of the University. I’ve never seen a stronger spirit of cooperation than what I am seeing right now. All of you should take great pride in all you have accomplished in just the past few weeks.
We are all very proud of the Class of 2020, and wish all of our graduates the very best.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the College as interim dean during the past year. I am very proud of all that we have accomplished, and I have truly enjoyed being a part of the college family. I can honestly say that it has been a pleasure to come to work every day, whether in person or by Zoom.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted that, for the last few months of my appointment, I would be working from home.
One thing I have learned about working for universities during my career is that our work is never boring! I have told my colleagues and coworkers that hundreds of times over the years. Clearly, nothing about this year has been dull.
In July, I will try to retire one more time. Who knows what the future holds? However, I am confident it will not be boring!
Thank you all for your incredible support and friendship.
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