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Message of Appreciation from Provost Cyril Clarke and Faculty Senate President Robert Weiss

May 12, 2022

Dear colleagues,

This week’s spring commencement and student achievement ceremonies signal the end of the 2021-22 academic year and offer us an opportunity to look back on and celebrate all that you have accomplished. As a university and as individuals, you once again navigated challenging circumstances and periods of uncertainly in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition back to in-person curricular and co-curricular activities. We want to take this opportunity to thank each of you sincerely for all that you have done this year to continue elevating and advancing Virginia Tech and for providing our students with the support they needed to continue their academic progress. It is only through your dedication and tireless efforts that we have been able to move forward as an institution and serve the needs of our students and university partners. 

During the past year, one of the most significant successes for our university has been the mitigation of COVID-19 on campus and the implementation of protocols that are now more in line with management of an endemic disease than a pandemic. Although the risk posed by COVID-19 is now lower than in the past, please be assured that the university continues to monitor and prioritize the health and safety of our campus community, especially that of vulnerable individuals and those with disabilities. The challenging work done to mitigate health safety risk posed to faculty, staff, and students through measures such as mandatory vaccinations, surveillance testing, wearing of masks in instructional settings and common areas, and optimized indoor ventilation enabled our recent return to the face-to-face activities and experiences that are the hallmark of our university.

Moving forward, it is important that we learn from our experiences and acknowledge both the negative impacts of online instruction on experiential learning, academic integrity, and mental health as well as the positive potential for integrating online learning and virtual work into the mission of the university, in a manner than facilitates access of students to a high-quality education. There are a number of pilot projects and studies underway that will assist us in effectively balancing these competing interests. Please know that the Provost’s Office and Faculty Senate, in partnership with Department Heads Council, Academic Affairs Council, and other leadership and governance groups, will continue to support ongoing development of innovative teaching, research, and service.

Thank you once again for all you have done on behalf of our campus community during the 2021-22 academic year. The university continues to thrive in its instructional, scholarly, and outreach achievements, but we realize that this success was accomplished despite the many challenges faced by faculty, staff, and students, particularly those caring for dependents and those with disabilities. Please know how much we appreciate and value your contributions. We hope you will take time this summer to relax with family and friends and reflect on your progress and achievements.

Cyril Clarke, Executive Vice President and Provost
Robert Weiss, Faculty Senate President