From the President: Reflecting on a Year of the Pandemic
As we emerge from this period and enter a new one, I hope we carry with us the lessons we have learned from the pandemic – lessons that will help us to continue to lead with purpose and to use our skills and talents to improve the human condition.
I write today as we approach the one-year anniversary of virtual learning and remote work at Simmons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this moment last March our world was on the precipice of a major shift. Few of us anticipated the full scope of this pandemic, or the extent to which COVID-19 would decimate our communities and alter our lives in fundamental ways. As I write this message, more than 525,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus – a staggering and devastating loss that was inconceivable a year ago. And as this year unfolded, we watched the disproportionate impact of COVID on underserved populations and communities of color and saw deep societal injustices laid bare. It is important to remember what we have lost, and acknowledge the pain we have experienced.
But as I reflect on the past year, I remain grateful for the grace and determination of our community. Your generosity, compassion, and resiliency have inspired me through these challenging months. Our talented and committed faculty and staff worked tirelessly to transition classes online and to develop an engaging and vibrant virtual campus. Many of our students and alumnae/i serve on the healthcare frontlines providing crucial care. Others rallied to support those in need and made sacrifices to help their families and their communities.
Your generosity, compassion, and resiliency have inspired me through these challenging months.
Our experiences this year have also given us the opportunity to reimagine the way we do many things, and led to the development of new practices we want to preserve post-pandemic – such as expanded access to telehealth services, more flexible work schedules, hybrid learning opportunities, and the creative activation of urban spaces to allow more opportunities for outdoor dining and activities.
Now, we look forward to a much brighter year ahead. Each day we watch as more of our families, friends, and neighbors get vaccinated. At Simmons, we are planning to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus this fall, and we have been hard at work to ensure a safe return. In the coming weeks, we will share more details and information that will be helpful as we prepare for the transition back to campus. In the interim, I encourage everyone to continue to follow COVID public health and university guidelines, which will keep our community safe.
During her inaugural address this past January, poet Amanda Gorman read from her poem “The Hill We Climb.” In it, she reminds us that “even as we grieved, we grew…even as we hurt, we hoped…even as we tired, we tried.” As we emerge from this period and enter a new one, I hope we carry with us the lessons we have learned from the pandemic – lessons that will help us to continue to lead with purpose and to use our skills and talents to improve the human condition. I am excited to shape a post-pandemic future with you, and I look forward to greeting you soon on campus.
— Lynn Perry Wooten