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Dear students, staff and faculty of FASS,
For me, September has always felt like the beginning of something new and exciting. It’s a remnant, I suppose, of my early school years—looking forward to the promise of the new school year. To this day, having followed a career path in education, the rhythm of the school year remains a constant, shaping my outlook. This September of course is a unique one for us all. For many there has been great strain to hold together all that we hold dear while keeping our plans and dreams on track.
To the students who are entering Simon Fraser University for the first time, I want to assure you that thanks to the work of our faculty and staff we have the systems in place to deliver a first-class learning experience, albeit probably a different one than you imagined when you enrolled. To our many returning students who have already had to adjust to our new, hopefully temporary, reality, I welcome you back. Realize that SFU is a great place to weather this storm because when we emerge you will be well prepared to make meaning in a world that will surely be unlike our old ‘normal’.
To the faculty, please know that I appreciate the exceptional efforts you have made to keep delivering your lectures, leading seminars, supervising your students and maintaining momentum on your research. Last March we turned on a dime to rework our methods with no model or template to follow. And we succeeded due to your innovation, persistence and compassion.
To the staff, I thank you for your dedication and professionalism, and for the many challenging adjustments you have made to reorganize your home and family lives in order to keep FASS running smoothly. Somehow you have found it within yourselves to perform your duties to the same high-quality level you’ve always displayed. Some days, I know, can be a grind but your dependability is admirable.
There are sure to be unanticipated challenges going forward—in our course delivery, in our research, in carrying out our day to day work. Adaptability and resilience are the essential traits we will rely on, but perhaps not as much as we will need kindness and patience. I urge you to practice empathy in your dealings with each other as we create, navigate and negotiate our new collective normal. I encourage you to reach out to others. We will get through this, and I look forward to doing so with you.
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences