Dear LAS faculty, staff, and graduate students,
In just a few days, we’ll officially conclude a year like no other.
Some days it felt like the finish line was just too far away. There were health struggles, financial challenges, a civil reckoning, devastating weather, and a heavy burden of the unknown. Through it all, we endured the separation from friends and family members, whether they lived in the next town or thousands of miles away.
And yet as we wrap up the semester, with the end so clearly in sight, the LAS community continues to give. Volunteers from LAS joined university officials to help vaccinate more than 8,000 students, staff and faculty. Others helped with testing and contact tracing, and another group of volunteers will provide graduating students an opportunity to celebrate during an in-person event this weekend.
I am filled with gratitude as I think of everything we’ve accomplished this year. I know the challenges have been great. I know that that some of the simplest things became incredibly complex. I know some of you suffered grievous losses.
In spite of all of this, our students exceeded expectations, research and other scholarly pursuits persisted and we kept the college operational – from mobile hot spots to modified campus offices.
As we transition back to a traditional campus experience for the fall, we have many things to look forward to. We will truly appreciate being able to interact with colleagues in person, and see the sidewalks and buildings full of people again.
And I am especially excited to announce the appointment of Monic Behnken, associate professor of sociology and director of the leadership program, as our inaugural associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.
This new leadership role allows the college to engage in collaborative and deliberate strategies to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students, faculty and staff. Monic brings an impressive range of skills and experience to this position, as a well-known advocate and leader in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on and off campus. I am thrilled to have her join the college leadership team, effective July 1, and look forward to the vision she will bring.
I hope the next few months bring some well-deserved rest and relief after the past year, wherever you spend them. From my heart, I thank each and every one of you for your commitment and dedication this year. I just wish I could thank you all in person! We are an incredible community.
And for the Micah fans out there, here she is snuggled up peacefully with two of her companions.
With my best wishes,