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August 30, 2021

Summary

As we gear up for a new academic year, I am eager to work with you to foster new growth and opportunity. If you are new to William & Mary, I issue this weekly “Top 5” email every Monday during the semester to help distill important information for faculty and to keep open the lines of communication. This year, I anticipate William & Mary flourishing in research, teaching and professional faculty development. Working together, we can ensure that William & Mary focuses on the wellness of our students, staff and faculty. We’ve all learned lessons from the past year, and perhaps the one that will assist us the most as we move forward concerns the importance of flexibility. This year will require all of us to remain resilient and to offer support to one another so we may continue to incorporate as many in-person elements as possible on campus. I look forward to our achieving that together.

Full Description

As we gear up for a new academic year, I am eager to work with you to foster new growth and opportunity. If you are new to William & Mary, I issue this weekly “Top 5” email every Monday during the semester to help distill important information for faculty and to keep open the lines of communication. This year, I anticipate William & Mary flourishing in research, teaching and professional faculty development. Working together, we can ensure that William & Mary focuses on the wellness of our students, staff and faculty. We’ve all learned lessons from the past year, and perhaps the one that will assist us the most as we move forward concerns the importance of flexibility. This year will require all of us to remain resilient and to offer support to one another so we may continue to incorporate as many in-person elements as possible on campus. I look forward to our achieving that together.

With that, here are the Top 5 Things to Know this week:

  1. Due to expected heavy rain from Hurricane Ida, this year’s in-person Opening Convocation ceremony has been postponed until Wednesday, September 8, at 5:15 p.m. in the Wren Yard. We will welcome the Classes of 2024 and 2025, transfer students and our new graduate students.
  2. I am looking forward to attending and celebrating the start of this academic year. I hope you all join us in person, but if you are unable to, live streaming will also be available via William & Mary’s Facebook
  3. It was a pleasure to join faculty members hired this year and last year at our New Faculty Reception last week. For events such as these, and other events that were not possible last year, I strongly encourage new faculty members from this year and last year to attend. It is delightful to convene all members of our community at in-person events this year. The New Academic Year Welcome Reception, this Friday, Sept. 3, is another event where I’d love to see you. If you intend on joining me and President Rowe, please RSVP by tomorrow.
  4. In addition to Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring’s message last week outlining the guidelines for how we will live and learn this semester, I wanted to highlight a few COVID-19-related protocols. First, I want to remind you that faculty members always have discretion on whether to allow food or drink in a classroom. Second, faculty members should plan to handle class absences due to COVID-19 illness as you would any other illness, like the flu or a cold. We do not anticipate returning to a remote format and are not asking that faculty plan to transition to remote teaching. It is ultimately up to you and the student to determine the best course of action for making up any missed work or class time. With that said, we should all make every effort to remain flexible throughout this year and make adjustments as necessary – I will be doing the same. 
  5. Last year the Provost’s Office, Student Affairs, and Information Technology launched the W&M&You polling program to create a mechanism for students, faculty and staff to provide anonymous input on critical questions for the university. We are continuing the program this year. If you signed up for W&M&You last year, you do not need to sign up again. If you are new to our community or had not previously registered and would like to sign up, please register to participate at W&M&You or through the W&M mobile app. Responses to new questions as well as past responses can be found at the same location. I very much value your input and want to hear from you.
  6. The first shout-out for this year goes to the Public Health Advisory Team. I am proud to have a group of insightful experts to analyze our public health data, review the science and help advance William & Mary during pandemic. Not only do they help guide us in our COVID-19-related decision-making, they also help our broader community and indeed the country to better understand this pandemic. We are fortunate to reap the benefits of their expertise and leadership.

We have much to be proud of at William & Mary. Throughout this pandemic, we have proven our ability to come together, place others before ourselves and still achieve our goals. It is an honor to be the provost at such a university, and I greet enthusiastically the coming year’s achievements.