I hope every member of the University of Waterloo community had a restful and safe holiday break. Having time to reflect on a challenging 2020 and prepare for a new year and a new term at Waterloo brought about more than planning for the future. I looked back, not only on the constant hurdles we faced as a community, but the successes we achieved – big and small – and those who made even the smallest of gestures of strength and kindness.
We all faced obstacles this past year we never thought we’d have to manage. It wasn’t just the resiliency of so many in our community that made me proud but the kindness of our students, our faculty members and our dedicated staff. We need to carry that dedication into 2021.
Heading into a time of new beginnings
The start of the New Year and a new Winter Term will offer new learnings, new challenges and new experiences. I understand it may feel like we are back to square one, back in a state of lockdown around the province and the uncertainty that this state creates, but please rest assured that we have learned a great deal over the past nine months of mainly remote teaching and continuing to research and work amidst this change.
One thing that will not change is our focus on teaching, research and fostering a culture of support. There are still discoveries to find, knowledge to acquire and new beginnings for us all. Waterloo marches on and I remain focused on the next term and beyond.
We recently announced the news that Dr. Vivek Goel has been named Waterloo’s next president beginning this July. As we begin a new year before Dr. Goel’s arrival, I am dedicating all of my time and energy over the next six months to continue guiding our community through this time of disruption while looking to the future of our University as well.
Priorities heading into a new year
My first priority in this new year is to guide the implementation of our new Strategic Plan. We have a dynamic and powerful plan for our institution, it has undergone subtle adjustments to incorporate the challenges and realities of a post-COVID world. This includes the wide-spread adoption and excellence in remote and hybrid teaching and learning, as well as overseeing the important work of the President’s Anti-racism Taskforce (PART). PART’s work is essential to our ongoing strategic commitment to fostering a welcoming and diverse community. The goals and activities of PART will certainly extend far beyond the next year, but these next several months will be important and transformative for our community. Progress on all ongoing implementations of the Strategic Plan will be communicated with our community in the near future.
It will also be a priority of mine to coordinate and execute on raising funds for strategic and key projects for the University. There are a number of initiatives underway across the institution and I am keenly engaged in appealing public and private funding sources to invest in our priority projects.
None of these priorities, however, are possible if our community is not safe. I will remain committed to working directly with our government and public health partners to keep our campus community safe in the coming months as we navigate through this next phase of the pandemic. The health and well-being of every community member is of great importance to me and this will not change.
We have left a difficult year in our modern history. Challenges remain but opportunities abound for Waterloo to take on. I am grateful to this community for being with me every step of the way. Good luck to every student, faculty and staff member on a prosperous term and I hope each of you stay well and stay safe in the weeks and months to come.