Today is the start of a new academic year for thousands of students, faculty and staff who make up the University of Waterloo community. I think many of us are craving a fresh start knowing full well the coming fall term will offer new experiences and some new challenges.
We have all been pushed and stressed by the past six months. I certainly feel it and see it. At the same time, we continue learning, working and creating because we believe in pursuing new knowledge and meeting the needs of our community.
Throughout it all, I have been thinking about what we can control and what we can do to adapt to the never-ending change around us. What makes me optimistic is our community.
We recognize the enormous stress we have faced balancing work, life, and family commitments, while working through a cloud of uncertainty. We also know that we are resilient. We are adaptive. We were built for change. But that doesn’t mean change comes easy and we will not ignore the stresses the new school year will bring.
New questions ahead
This will be a year for more change.
More of our students are learning remotely than ever before, combining on, off campus, in-person, remote learning. Together our instructors, researchers and staff are developing alternative learning methods; pushing forward with new discoveries to keep our community running and growing, safely.
We’re starting our staged and safe return to campus life. If we work together to do our part to limit the spread of COVID, I truly hope we can connect in person sooner rather than later.
If you are planning to spend time on campus this fall, welcome! If you are studying or working remotely, let’s be sure to stay close and connected. Regardless, let’s look out for each other and remember that we are moving forward together.
The weeks and months ahead will be filled with new questions we’ve never faced. I don’t have all the answers today – nobody can. But I will do all that I can to find the answers while ensuring the health and safety of our entire university.
We all belong
I have spent a great deal of time listening to countless community members who were generous enough to share what they have been going through over the past six months. It has forced us to lift the lid on inequities like racism that for too long we have ignored. At the same time, COVID-19 has created isolation and introspection for us all. It’s created disconnection between us all.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, and experience difficulties during these times. When you are faced with these challenges, I encourage you to reach out to your instructor, manager, or the other resources available to students and employees. This is also an important time to check-in with our colleagues and peers to see how they are doing.
Know that even as we strive to keep these vital connections with our community active, we all belong at Waterloo. We need each of you. We need your diverse ideas, opinions, cultures and I hope that as the year continues, we can learn from what is working, what isn’t working, and make changes to keep us stronger, together.
We are Waterloo. We are a community. We care about you and your well-being. And right now, we need you more than ever.
Thank you all for making the University of Waterloo what it is today and I wish each of you a happy, safe and productive year ahead.