Welcome to Winter Term (January 7, 2021)

Dear Lawrence Community,

I am sure all of you expected Winter Term to be unlike any other, but events, both national and local, have solidified the start of this new term as one that we will never forget.  

The vision of a mob storming the nation’s Capital yesterday violated the very core of what we stand for.  President-Elect Biden said, “At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times.  An assault on the citadel of Liberty, the Capitol itself…… Let me be very clear.  The scenes of chaos…..do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are.”  The President-Elect was joined in words of condemnation by many other elected officials on both sides of the aisle, including our own Congressional representative Mike Gallagher.  

Closer to home, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s decision earlier this week to not press charges in Jacob Blake’s case painfully illustrates the continuing inequality in our society.  These events and many others work powerfully against the values of Lawrence and the community we hold dear.  

We also continue to live in the middle of a pandemic.  Thank you to those who have decided to connect from locations around the globe and to those joining us here on campus.  I am grateful for our community’s resilience and care for each other.  I want to thank every member of our community who showed up for testing and who carefully observes the pledge as we gather in Appleton.  As the contours of COVID-19 continue to change, we will do everything we can to keep our community healthy and safe.  

Many of us have now lost loved ones to this deadly virus.  Within our own community, it was with a heavy heart that I learned of Pat Powell’s death earlier this week.  Pat, a beloved member of the Bon Appetit staff, contracted the virus after the end of fall term.  I know you join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to her loved ones and all others who have been touched by this deadly virus.  

It is against this backdrop that we begin our term.  Our world is certainly not one that meets the expectations of our community or the principles we discuss in classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, and studios.  Our challenge will continue:  to work every day to lead our college, our community, this nation and others around the world to meet our aspirations and the values we teach and learn here.  Your efforts to reach this goal inspire me every day.  

I look forward to seeing you soon on campus or via zoom.  Be well and please continue to make decisions that keep others well.