Thursday, September 3, 2020

Dear Hawkeyes,

There are only so many ways to say the we are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected seemingly every part of life. Likewise, injustice and political turmoil have gripped much of the country. Yet in the face of such seemingly insurmountable obstacles, our community has come together to welcome new students and to continue the critical missions of our university.

Bruce Harreld portrait
Bruce Harreld

Though the semester has only just begun, the path that we are on is not an easy one, and it has already required tremendous effort from staff, faculty, and students just to arrive at this moment. In times like this, it is sometimes difficult to get out of bed, let alone focus on your courses or research. But Hawkeyes persevere. For that, I am grateful every day.

We all know that the University of Iowa’s contributions not only to our immediate community but to the wider world are of inestimable value. The dynamic, collaborative atmosphere that has formed in Iowa City is a rare treasure. And it is in institutions like ours that the solutions to the problems we face will be found. Such places must endure, even in the most trying times.

Dealing with the uncertainty of the present moment requires us to focus on what is in our power to change. Iowa researchers are contributing to the fight against COVID-19 as we speak, and our campus’ efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion have redoubled. One example of proactive work from members of our campus: classes within our Department of Dance moved to Hancher Auditorium, the IMU Second Floor Ballroom, and outdoor spaces to improve social distancing. Additionally, the university inaugurated the Reimagining Campus Safety Committee to recommit ourselves to fair, effective, and just public safety at Iowa. These are only a small part of Iowa’s efforts.

However, we also react to new information as it comes in. We adapt. In that process, we are bound to make mistakes, but our only option is to act in good faith on the information available to us.

With that, I ask all Hawkeyes remain committed to the health and safety of campus. This is a collective effort, and we must do all we can. It is critical that we continue to pursue our missions of research and education, but that we do so as responsibly as possible.

Thank you again for all of your efforts. Our community has the strength not only to endure through these crises, but to continue make incredible contributions to the world.

Bruce Harreld, president