In August, we began an academic year with great uncertainty and met it head-on with careful planning, steady resilience, and the support of our great community.
Now, as we gather once again – both on campus and virtually – we do so under the continued strain of a pandemic that has taken a physical and emotional toll, not only on our world, but on so many of us personally. We also reunite as our country roils through a bitter, divisive political landscape; that as we witnessed in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, undermines our democratic process and seeks to further divide us through dangerous means.
It’s understandable that we may be approaching this new year, our reunion on the Hilltop, with some trepidation and uncertainty. Here’s what I’m certain of: The strength that guided our community through the challenges we faced this past year will see us through this winter and get us to our goal – to complete the academic year together, in Meriden, as one.
Today, our faculty came together for an in-service day to continue our important work surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although we were united through Zoom, we engaged in open dialogue and personal vulnerability to learn and grow together. As one faculty member remarked, as educators we are also lifelong learners. What we also found today was something we all needed – one another. In the aftermath of a mournful time in our nation’s history, we turned to our trusted community. We asked questions with no easy answers: How are you feeling? How do we move forward? Can I make a difference? And we listened.
Our role as educators is to help students process complex information, value the respectful exchange of ideas, and apply essential skills like critical thinking and empathy to our actions. At times, the best role we can play is listener. When campus is full once again, we will be a trusted community that will not shy away from hard questions, nor turn a deaf ear. We have much to learn from our students as well, who time and again lead the way to make a difference in this world, find their voices, and work to create a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
And so, because of all of you, I approach our return to the Hilltop with great optimism. Let’s use this time together to expand our knowledge and our capacity for understanding. Along the way, all of us here at KUA are here to support one another as we work through the events that unfold here in our community and in the world around us.
We look forward to embarking on the first classes of ‘Year 2’ on Monday morning.