The holidays are a time for people to renew the traditions that hold them together. A time for us to appreciate the gifts we’ve been given. A time for family, friendship, and hope. In this holiday season, when many of us are seeking ways to make sense of the past year, we’d like to take a moment to express our gratitude to those of you who have been working so hard to keep a light burning in these very difficult times.
Most of us will experience a very different holiday season this year--and not simply because the CDC recommends that people celebrate the holidays with members of their current households, warning that even small in-person gatherings pose risk. While navigating those rules will be a hardship for some, for many others, the holidays will be colored by other losses: the loss of a job, a home, and, yes, even a loved one. Grief often makes itself felt during the holidays and this year, grief will be hard to stare down.
Still, human beings are astonishingly adaptable. In our own education communities, we have seen people rise to the occasion over and over.
Instructors have reinvented how they teach. Students have continued to learn and connect. And that has largely happened through the dedication of staff who are often unseen and never thanked quite enough. Support staff in teaching and learning centers worked around the clock to help instructors adapt their courses to an online or hybrid environment. IT made sure students and faculty could still keep in touch, despite being hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles apart. Conference and events staff pivoted to help find new uses for campus spaces and make them as safe as possible. Student services staff fielded thousands of requests and concerns by students who were struggling to find their feet. Department admins helped trained faculty unfamiliar with new technologies. Or personally delivered mail to faculty who weren’t able to visit their campuses.
Yes, the past year has been extraordinary. But it has also brought us extraordinary moments--and an opportunity to appreciate what education can do. What you can do.
And so we say thank you.
Thank you for helping students continue to learn, grow, and connect.
Thank you for finding new ways to support the mission and vision of your institution.
Thank you for reaching out to members of your communities—whether that’s on campus or off—to lend a helping hand.
And thank you for facing this year with courage and, yes, when you could, joy.
Thank you. We will see you on the other side in 2021.