Like many of you on January 1, 2020, I looked forward at the new year with great optimism and excitement for what would come. Within a few months life had changed significantly across our world and altered the day-to-day of our lives around the country. And, just when we thought life could not get harder we were again reminded of the deadly nature of racial injustice in our society. Collectively, it is all too much for any one of us to handle – even more so as a community.
While things are hard and challenging … and will be for some time … it is important to remember what the late Dr. Shane Lopez offered us all: “Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned. Hope can be shared with others.” This is so important to embrace even in the fatigue of working through insufferable news and so many constraints on our lives right now. Collective hope can offer a pathway towards life getting better in the days and months to come.
In doing so, we do not look past the reality of a growing divide in our society over equity and access for all. Pandemics, acts of injustice, etc., simply underscore for us that the work continues towards a “more perfect union.” I think we can all choose to be with each other as we do this work and live our life with enduring values like: humility, kindness, generosity, empathy, hope, grace, and compassion.
So, as you start this new academic year please remember that community calls on us to be obligated to each other. I count this as one of the many lessons that 2020 is teaching us. I do not expect life to return to what it was before this, but we should certainly carry into this new season of life our connections to each other and the bond of hope that holds us together.
Take care and be well.
Byron Hughes, Ph.D.
Dean of Students