Published February 1, 2021
Dear University Community,
With the beginning of UB’s spring 2021 semester, I would like to wish all of you a season of great productivity in your scholarly and professional endeavors. To our students in particular: Whether you are pursuing your studies with us in person, remotely or a combination of both, welcome back! I hope you had a restful and restorative winter break, and that it has energized you for the next step in your academic journey.
As I take stock of all that has transpired since our 2020 spring semester, it occurs to me that now would be a good time to retire the phrase “new normal”—at least where the pandemic is concerned. Although it has not been easy, we have reconfigured our lives and lifestyles to defend against this deadly virus. As a result, we have become adept at using Zoom to meet, teach and learn. We can gauge six feet of distance between ourselves and others at a glance, and we give each other a wide berth as if by instinct. Many of us are so used to wearing masks that we’re more likely to forget to remove them when they’re no longer needed than to put them on when they are.
Given this protracted state of vigilance, it was inevitable that another phrase has gained traction of late: pandemic fatigue.
While the vaccine rollout warrants great hope for the future, we must be careful that neither undue optimism nor weariness of pandemic-related curtailments clouds our common sense. At the same time, if the pandemic has taken its toll on your psyche or otherwise overwhelmed you, please don’t hesitate to avail yourself of UB’s academic and mental health services to get the encouragement and assistance you need.
Remember, our university community had a successful fall semester because we all respected UB’s health and safety measures, as well as those of our broader society. We were able to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. We were able to follow the schedule we had set for our academic calendar. I commend each of you for furthering our mission of excellence under trying circumstances, professionally and personally. Today, I ask for your continued compliance with all of these safety measures.
As you know, we plan to resume our regular in-person instruction beginning with the fall 2021 semester, provided it is safe to do so. I am excited for the prospect of all of our students, faculty and staff taking full advantage of our living-learning environment once again. The day when our entire scholarly community can safely return to campus will be a happy one, indeed.
As we look toward the horizon with hope, we’re called to meet the present moment with diligence and discipline—qualities that will not only help protect us from the continued menace of the coronavirus, but advance our academic and professional goals. The start of our spring 2021 semester marks a new beginning for each of us—an opportunity to reaffirm our mission of excellence, to envision new solutions and to serve as agents of positive change. As always, I look forward to all that you will accomplish in your scholarly, professional and creative endeavors.
Happy New Year!
Satish K. Tripathi