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Message from the Provost: Appreciation for Faculty and Ongoing Challenges

February 7, 2022

Dear colleagues,

We are almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and I want to express my profound and sincere appreciation to the Virginia Tech academic community – faculty, staff, graduate assistants, instructors – who have worked tirelessly and diligently to continue our mission under the most trying of circumstances. You have been and remain the foundation of academic continuity and the principal connection between our students and their Virginia Tech experience. To say your contributions have been exceptional and your advocacy for students important during this time is an understatement. Thank you so very much.

It is equally important we acknowledge that your lives away from the campus and your workplaces have been impacted in ways that were not imagined or expected. Please know that I, along with your deans and department heads, recognize the range of personal and professional challenges you are facing. For many of you, the pandemic has compromised the safety and security of the people closest to you and limited your access to the places that feel most comfortable and familiar. Although you are not alone in feeling these anxieties, it does not diminish in the least the effect that the pandemic has had on your individual situations.

We often speak in broad terms about a “new normal” for our university and how we expect, to one degree or another, that it will forever change the way we engage with students and colleagues and how we operate as an institution. Regrettably, what we sometimes forget to recognize is that the “new normal” has also irrevocably affected our home lives, families, friends, and personal pursuits. When faced with these realities, sometimes the greatest service we can do in support of our friends and colleagues is to pause, listen, and show genuine compassion, comradery, and empathy for the pressures weighing on those around us. Be assured that this support is and will remain the collective commitment of the Provost’s Office and academic leaders across the university.

Although there may not be published guidelines that address every circumstance, all members of our academic community can play a role in helping colleagues deal with the stresses and uncertainties created by this pandemic. It is important that compassion, empathy, and advocacy become a central part of our process for helping others. Please know you are a valued member of this university community and I offer you my unwavering support and appreciation.