Dear Warrior community,
This week marks one year since the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Michigan and we were forced to shift much of our teaching, learning and operations from in person to virtual. Now is an appropriate time to reflect on how we’ve met the challenges of the pandemic, and also look to the coming year with a sense of hope and optimism.
For many of us, this has been an extraordinarily difficult year, marked by near-constant uncertainty and the need to distance ourselves from the people, places and activities we love. Everyday routines have been interrupted or complicated by new ways of doing business, or necessary yet often inconvenient safety measures. Many of our new students have yet to set foot on campus. Some have suffered economic loss, and many have personally endured this virus’ physical effects or lost friends and family members. Several Warriors even succumbed to the virus, and we continue to hold them close in our hearts.
A few years back, we introduced the phrase “Warrior Strong” to describe the tenacity and dedication of the Wayne State community. Throughout the past year, our students, faculty and staff have brought new meaning to that concept. Every day, I find new reasons to be impressed with our perseverance and resilience. Our community has adapted to learning and working remotely without sacrificing their commitment to excellence. Our students and faculty in the health sciences have contributed to the front-line response and to research that helped develop lifesaving vaccines, including leading clinical trial sites for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Warriors have sewn masks for first responders, created virtual engagement opportunities for families sheltering at home, and dedicated themselves to their local communities. The Warrior Strong passion is evident in the ways that our students, faculty and staff prioritize their peers’ well-being and contribute to a safe environment. We made a difference, and we should be proud.
Now, one year after we first sent faculty, students and staff home, we are turning a corner. Cases and positivity rates in Michigan have declined. Our hospitals are no longer overwhelmed. Michigan has moved forward, and the presence of vaccines provides more hope that an end is in sight. Current restrictions and precautions will continue in the coming months, but I am optimistic that we will return in the fall to resume many campus routines and traditions.
While it will not look exactly the same as it did pre-pandemic, we are planning for the majority of our fall semester classes to be offered in person. We look forward to welcoming students to campus and offering the opportunities for social interaction and engagement that are so vital to the college experience. Although our May commencement ceremonies will be conducted virtually, we plan to have an in-person celebration in December. And for those who graduated during the pandemic and could not celebrate in person with their classmates, professors and family, we are planning a special in-person commencement ceremony for early April 2022. Stay tuned for details.
Hardship has a way of making us stronger, and there are lessons from this pandemic that will allow us to teach, learn and work more effectively, efficiently and safely in the future. We will incorporate many of these into our activities, and they will guide us as we develop our new five-year strategic plan.
I miss our thriving campus and the ability to interact with all of you. I miss our Midtown community and the city we call home. I know many of you feel the same way. But I am excited about the future and eager to welcome everyone back.
Thank you for being Warrior Strong, and I hope to see you in person soon.
M. Roy Wilson