Dear Western Community,
Welcome to the 2021 academic year! I hope your fall quarter is off to a good start, and that after all the uncertainty and anticipation of the past year you are as excited as I am to be more personally engaged and connected to each other in our Western community for the year ahead.
The start of the academic year is always special, but this year is unlike any other in our history. I imagine we are all feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety about transitioning to more shared spaces and experiences. Just as the transition to working, learning, and teaching remotely taught us many unexpected lessons, this transition to being back together will bring its own lessons as well. While we will adapt and adjust to meet the operational challenges as they arise, a more important and meaningful action we can all take today is to extend grace, patience, and kindness to ourselves and others. This fall, each of us brings a unique set of personal and family experiences, health concerns, boundaries, and comfort zones from the last 18 months. Because we often don’t know the burdens others are carrying, simply by adopting an attitude of respect and compassion for each other and ourselves, we can create a community that is more grounded in equity, inclusivity, and wellness.
Seeing the campus spring back to life with the return of students, faculty, and staff to campus has been enormously inspiring. It reminds me why I am so honored to be a part of Western, this community of people united by a common mission to make a positive difference through education and service. I am proud of the commitment that we’ve made to keep each other safe by wearing masks and getting vaccinated; I am grateful to the incredible work of our facilities staff and others who keep our physical spaces clean and safe. Thanks to our concerted efforts we are among the most vaccinated universities in one of the most vaccinated states in the country, and the Whatcom County Health Department has deemed Western to be one of the safest places in the county.
As we emerge from the pandemic I know the year ahead can be one full of learning, discovery, and impact for Western, and for each of us. By coming together with compassion and a common purpose, I am confident that it will be.
With gratitude and best wishes for a great year,