Dear students, faculty and staff members,
Happy new year and welcome to the spring semester!
I hope that your well-deserved winter break was restful and that you’re ready for a strong start to 2021.
We cannot begin this new year, however, without acknowledging that 2020 continues to cast a long shadow, both close to home and across our nation.
This is the fourth semester the University has confronted the challenges of COVID-19. It will be one year in March that the pandemic first altered most aspects of campus life and operations. Ten months later, the virus remains a real and present danger.
In addition, last week in our nation’s Capitol, a violent mob interrupted – but ultimately failed to stop – the act of certifying the winners of the 2020 presidential election. Their actions were reprehensible and an affront to our nation’s standing as the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.
These events should remind us to recommit ourselves to the fundamental role universities play in exhibiting the power of critical thought, the value of engaged and responsible citizenship, and the strength of a pluralistic society governed by laws and protected by equal justice.
Last week’s events underscored and, understandably, exacerbated feelings of unease many experienced throughout much of 2020. It’s OK to feel uncertain in times such as these, but we cannot allow uncertainty to spiral into hopelessness.
The University community is here for you, and we will confront whatever challenges 2021 may hold in the same way we overcame those 2020 presented – by supporting each other.
For students, resources such as in-person and telehealth counseling sessions are available. Of course, your professors and fellow students are important support networks as well.
To protect yourselves and others from COVID-19, it is important that we all wear face coverings on and off campus, practice social distancing, wash our hands, limit gatherings, stay home if sick, and remember – always – that the virus remains dangerous.
Hope is on the horizon. Vaccines have been developed and released, and we will provide details as soon as we can about when and how these will be available to the University community. In the meantime, we cannot let our guards down and must continue to follow health and safety protocols.
I know that January may seem like it is shaping up to be the 13th month of a very long and challenging 2020. But, let me remind you in closing that last year threw a lot at us, too – as individuals, as a University, and as a nation – and we got through the contentiousness with resolve and an unfailing concern for each other.
By continuing to stand together, we can leave the long shadow of 2020 behind and walk into the sunshine of better days ahead.
Here’s to a healthy, safe and successful spring semester.
Thank you and Geaux Cajuns!
Dr. Joseph Savoie