It’s Not Light Yet, But It’s Getting There
Dear Kent State University Students, Faculty and Staff,
“It’s not light yet, but it’s getting there.”
This phrase, a play on the 1997 Bob Dylan song “Not Dark Yet,” keeps popping into my mind of late. It’s not light yet because we know the very real danger of living with COVID-19 will remain with us for months. But we also have the very real hope of returning to normal life in 2021.
As such, I’ll begin my message with this important announcement: Our goal is to resume much of our on-campus life at Kent State for Fall Semester 2021. If promising developments with virus mitigation continue, in-person classes, residential living, face-to-face extracurricular activities and all that is special about our beloved university will likely return. As you begin to make your plans for 2021, keep this return to normalcy in mind. Returning students and new students are encouraged to make their enrollment and housing decisions based on this return to a pre-pandemic Kent State experience, and we look forward to communicating more specifics about our expected return to normal in the months ahead. As always, our plans will follow state and federal guidelines for the health and safety of our community.
“It’s not light yet, but it’s getting there.”
For now, as this semester draws to a close and we near the end of 2020, I want to take a moment to reflect on this unprecedented year, both in the history of our university and our world.
Never in recent memory have we seen our lives change so dramatically in such a short span of time. Yet, despite the pain borne of this pandemic, every day I have seen reasons to be hopeful, thankful and joyful.
I have watched as our students and faculty rose to the challenges of remote learning and persevered to reach their goals, pursuing groundbreaking research and dynamic teaching and learning. After Saturday’s commencement, Kent State will have awarded more than 9,000 degrees in 2020 to students who overcame the odds created by this pandemic to complete their education and achieve great success.
I have seen our student-athletes continue to diligently train, practice and study, not knowing whether they would ever see a day on the field or court. I experienced how our employees selflessly worked for reduced wages, even at a time when they were being asked to do more every day to help the university confront the pandemic.
I witnessed your immense generosity with a record $2.2 million donated on Giving Tuesday and in the way so many of you stepped up to give to our Emergency Grant Fund to help students facing hardships created by the pandemic.
In a year when our country was torn apart by political and racial strife, I saw the Kent State community respond with town halls and teach-ins to foster dialogue, increase knowledge and further understanding. When we created the new Anti-Racism Task Force, our people responded with a resounding “Yes!” when asked to serve. Their efforts will ensure that our university continues to be a diverse, inclusive and supportive community that stays true to our core values of respect and kindness in all we do and toward all those we encounter.
Perhaps most importantly, when I asked you to always remember that Flashes Take Care of Flashes, you did. You practiced our Flashes Safe Seven, wore your face coverings, got tested and did your part to keep us all healthy and safe. With the anticipation of vaccines, we know there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is another semester or longer before our lives return to pre-pandemic normal.
In 2020, I have seen our Kent State community come together in ways big and small to make sure that everyone is taken care of during this pandemic and to work diligently to develop plans to keep everyone even safer in 2021.
I am confident that our strategy for spring semester will be at the forefront of national best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19. By continuing to follow our proven Flashes Safe Seven and by enhancing our efforts with expanded testing, we will create the safest of all possible environments as we live through what hopefully are the waning months of the pandemic. These existing and enhanced practices will make studying and earning a degree at Kent State as safe an experience as is possible this spring and will place our university firmly in the forefront nationally for protecting the health of all students and employees. You deserve nothing less.
In closing, I want to offer you my best wishes for a happy, safe and peaceful holiday season and a new year that will bring us all good health and great success. As 2020 has shown us, we can never predict what the year will bring. What I do know, though, is no matter what the circumstances, we can always count on our Kent State family to come together, take care of each other and work to change our world for the better.