Dear colleagues and students,
I write to warmly welcome you as we begin the first day of spring classes. This is always an energizing and busy time, but we also begin this new year facing the growing spread of COVID and the aftermath of last week’s reprehensible attack on the U.S. Capitol and our democracy.
Although, like you, I am weary and worried about COVID, I am incredibly optimistic about the vaccine. I look forward to celebrating this semester when every member of our UF community has been vaccinated. More than 16,800 employees have already received their first dose. However, with the new and more contagious COVID strain present in Florida, I urge us to redouble our commitment to wear a mask, watch our physical distance, and wash our hands frequently.
I join many others in feeling disbelief, sadness, anger and unease in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. At the same time, I believe that our democratic traditions, principles and freedoms will become stronger. Our representative democracy is precious, cannot be taken for granted and must be preserved.
Each of us at UF has a role in fighting the virus and in strengthening our society. We can work to create an environment where we approach our differences, problems, goals and health with thoughtfulness, respectful engagement, empathy and care for one another – an ethos that will radiate from campus to nourish our society.
Today’s The Independent Florida Alligator includes my most recent monthly column in which I share 21 things that I’m personally looking forward to in 2021, including several all-campus celebrations.
Please know how proud I am of the members of our UF community. I am grateful every day for all the ways you personally make our university great and a model for the nation in these challenging times.