Greetings Bronco Supporters!
I am writing you in the early days of summer with reflections on this exceptionally unusual year and in anticipation of our return to campus, which we have yearned for so much.
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Emily Esfahani Smith reminds us that we have narrative choices to make when interpreting hard times. Should we characterize this last year at SCU primarily in terms of isolation, loss and deprivation? Should we focus on the relief we feel now that we are emerging from the pandemic? Did we grow, and if so, how?
As I think of the story I want to tell about this last year, I am inclined to call it more remarkable than wretched. The year was incredibly difficult, to be sure, and that’s exactly what makes the College’s accomplishments all the more remarkable.
First and foremost, this year showed us just how much the College of Arts and Sciences is a collective endeavor. What is the College? It comprises thousands of students, thousands more of parents, other family members and supporters, hundreds of faculty and dozens of staff. This year, thousands of alumni and scores of donors wrapped their arms around the College (albeit virtually) and held us all as we persevered through the year. When it looked like many students and families were suffering financial hardships due to the pandemic, alumni and non-alumni donors rushed in to help.
So while the physical campus slept under its palms and olives, the College leapt across the streets and towns, to reside in the spaces between us, the crackle and spark of our ideas and creations, now rendered in 2-D bits of sound and images. This newsletter is full of stories from our virtual College of 2020-21. I hope it will give you a feel for the remarkable dedication, talent and grit our students, faculty, staff and alumni all demonstrated.
Those of us who live an academic life mark the new year somewhere in September and the end of the year somewhere in June. Summer exists in a kind of off-calendar pause of reflection, rejuvenation, or simply catch-up. It’s also a time of excited preparation, which is especially appealing after this pandemic year. There’s so much to look forward to, not least of which will be reinhabiting our campus and seeing each other in person. Many of us are giddy at the socializing we have resumed, thanks to the vaccines. I am going to be mindful of this special in-person feeling; I hope it will keep me grateful for the precious beauty of human interaction as well as the attachment we feel to SCU as a unique place.
Back-to-school in 2021 promises much: for the first time, we will welcome two classes of undergraduates new to campus, this year’s incoming class and our sophomores. As I see it, that’s double the wonder and discovery of their alma mater; I wish for them a lot of fun with it.
We will also welcome many new faculty to the College, each of them enormously talented and excited to contribute to our Jesuit liberal arts tradition and practice. We will teach and learn and discover in our spectacular new Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, the heart of which is a brand new, 270,000 square-foot science, technology, engineering and mathematics building like no other you have ever seen (so I hope you come see it soon – the dedication is in mid-October!).
Grand Reunion, a new Sinatra artist-in-residence (BD Wong) and new events from our Center for Arts and Humanities, as well as the beloved SCU Presents, all round out our Great Return. I look forward to seeing many of you, in person, in this special year to come.
In the meantime, all of us in the College of Arts and Sciences thank you for your devotion, hard work and belief in us. We felt you every step of the way!