As the semester winds down and we approach the end of the calendar year and look forward to time with family and friends, I have a favor to ask of each of you that is both small and large at the same time: Let’s share the gift of grace with one another.
Coming on the heels of a pandemic that shook the world (and is still registering aftershocks), it has been a fraught semester for many, rife with uncertainty over everything from the economy to elections, from flu, COVID and RSV infections to gas prices and travel delays. A journal article published earlier this fall suggests that the pandemic may have actually altered our personalities — especially young people’s — making us less extroverted, creative, agreeable and conscientious.
The study was couched with many caveats, so I won’t dwell on it at length, and we all have legitimate reasons to be cranky these days without having to attribute it to a global pandemic. Many departments across the College and University are still understaffed, and some employees have a workload previously handled by two or more people. A lot of these vacancies are in positions we don’t really notice until the systems they serve aren’t working as efficiently as we are used to: It’s taking longer for hiring paperwork to be processed, travel to be approved, facilities to be cleaned or repaired. There is stress around using Concur, there is tension over migrating from Sakai to Canvas. Students are asking for accommodations in ever-increasing numbers. It seems like it takes much longer to receive something once ordered, and there are still supply chain issues over which we have no control.
Plus we launched a new and comprehensive general education curriculum this semester! Let’s all take a moment to celebrate this huge accomplishment, even as we acknowledge that implementing it, evaluating it and making the necessary adjustments for next year’s incoming class have added to lots of people’s workloads.
Please let us recognize that everyone is doing their best and some of us are still struggling, whether we admit it or not. Let’s treat each other with compassion and kindness, even if that approach is not returned in kind. That’s what I mean by giving one another grace. As we do, we’ll get through this together, and come out of this turbulent time a stronger and better College community.
James W.C. White, Dean