Earlier this year I stated that any return to in-person campus operations would be data-informed, use the latest science, occur in alignment with public health guidance and include strong mitigation for COVID-19 health risks. I also committed to make rapid and sustained progress toward true equity, inclusion and antiracism. These promises are rightly being demanded of me and the rest of our university’s leadership. They are also necessary for our future.
We have had a busy spring and summer addressing these pledges and preparing for our return to campus this fall—leveraging our own faculty expertise, our tireless and innovative staff and critical input from our students, community members and families.
I’m grateful for the progress on the actions I announced, but they are a first step, and we must expand our efforts, deepen our urgency and accelerate our pace through more direct engagement. That’s why, just yesterday, we announced the formation of the Council for Community and Inclusion, a strategic advisory group of student leaders, faculty and staff representing all university units who will begin the historic work of implementing the IDEA plan, our campus blueprint for building a more diverse and inclusive CU Boulder. I will also continue to meet with diverse students, faculty and staff to gain their perspectives and help inform our priorities and decisions.
Preparing for the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, we have made difficult decisions and invested heavily in a cross-section of mutually reinforcing health and safety measures. We believe we have achieved one of the most comprehensive, science-based return-to-campus strategies in the country. Our students are now moving back, faculty are finalizing their courses—in person and online—and staff are implementing our extensive plan. We are only days away from seeing the benefits of this hard work.
I recognize that this is a time of fear and uncertainty. The lives of our students, faculty and staff have been upended and the challenges of balancing work, family and safety have, at times, seemed nearly impossible. I want you to know that I take seriously the combined concerns of our community.
Our own world-class scientists and faculty are helping us navigate this transition to a new normal. Success is defined by how well we collectively adhere to what they ask of us: wear face coverings, follow all university, state and county guidance, keep our distance, sanitize frequently and avoid congregating in groups.
This is a pivotal moment in the history of our university. It is a chance for us to rise to the challenges, together, in service of the education of our students, the inclusiveness of our campus and the health and safety of everyone. We will define our legacies by doing what Buffs do best—meeting the moment with empathy and care, resiliency and innovation.
I know none of this is easy. We may have to rapidly shift our operating status to protect our CU and Boulder communities. We may have to make other adjustments as we move through the academic year. But we must take heart and carry through on this mission to ensure that our students’ future is secure; to me, there is no higher calling.
I’ve never been more confident that—because of you—our best days are ahead of us. Thank you for rising to this moment.