December 1, 2021
Good morning everyone,
The coming of December highlights that in a few weeks, the fall 2021 term will successfully draw to a close and we can all enjoy a well-deserved rest over the winter holidays. As always, I want to thank everyone for the flexibility and compassion we continue to demonstrate throughout this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime, worldwide disruption.
Among many successes this fall, we celebrated over 1,300 graduates on their way to successful and self-determined lives. Overall, the class of 2021 is the largest in our history at over 6,800 graduates! And yesterday, on Giving Tuesday, we raised over $1.2M, matched by the University to address issues that matter to us all—improving health and wellness, strengthening the new economy, creating new tech for good, ensuring sustainable development, supporting vibrant communities around the world and so much more! I could not be prouder of our students and community.
Looking towards the winter 2022 term and beyond, we are staying true to our commitment to a safe and gradual return to campus. We are still in the pandemic, with cases currently rising here and in many jurisdictions and a new variant of concern, Omicron, now in Ottawa. As always, our return-to-campus decisions are made with the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff as our top priority. We understand that 20 months into the pandemic, we are all eager to return to “normal,” but caution is warranted for a little while longer, through the virus-friendly winter months, as the pandemic continues to evolve worldwide and new, poorly understood variants of concern arise.
As confirmed by Senate earlier this fall, the winter term will see a mix of face-to-face and online learning opportunities to maximize flexibility. Compared to the fall, there will be a notable increase of in-person classes and opportunities, and classes will also have larger capacity. Developing and implementing a timetable in the current context is very challenging and I want to thank everyone involved for your efforts in meeting the needs of our students. At its latest meeting, Senate also confirmed that the flexible and compassionate grading policy that we have been following since the start of the pandemic will remain in place for the winter term. Campus life is also continuing to safely and gradually reopen, from dining services to the gym, outdoor spaces, study spaces, intramural sports, etc.
We are currently developing the summer schedule and the percentage of in-person sections will again increase. We will continue to offer some courses in online, hybrid, or bimodal formats to best meet the needs and preferences of diverse students. Barring a fifth wave or new public health restrictions, we anticipate that we will complete our full return to campus over the summer, well in time for the fall 2022 term.
In closing, we have entered the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. This period includes December 6, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (White Ribbon Day) which honours the 14 women killed specifically because they were women in the horrific 1989 Montreal Polytechnique massacre. On December 6, the Faculty of Engineering and Design will release a commemorative video where I am honoured to speak. As a community, Carleton is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working and living environment where violence of any kind, including gender-based violence, is not tolerated. As part of these efforts, we are currently reviewing our sexual violence policy and further enhancing our strategy Honouring Each Other: Building Consent Cultures on Campus, Together. I invite you to participate in this important work and to stand against any form of gender-based violence.
Thank you again for all your hard work in supporting our students—in-person and online—as we continue our safe and gradual return towards full campus life.
Have a great day,
President and Vice-Chancellor