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February 2, 2021
Good morning everyone,
Let me start by thanking everyone for a strong start to our winter term. As we continue to face challenging circumstances, we can be encouraged that it’s already February – with daylight hours noticeably increasing – and that our Winter Break is less than two weeks away. I also want to acknowledge that February is Black History Month; throughout the month, please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for stories and information on events celebrating the many achievements of Black students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The Carleton Senate confirmed at its meeting of January 29 that the summer 2021 term will be held mostly online. The plan outlined in the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) Recommendation for Summer 2021 is to “continue the approach adopted for the fall and winter terms, specifically, that we plan for a predominantly online summer term. We anticipate that some on-campus learning may be possible depending on public health developments.” Last summer saw a heightened demand for courses and, accordingly, we are developing an extensive summer schedule that will allow students across all faculties to take advantage of the quieter months to advance their studies.
Looking further ahead to fall 2021, we will need a clearer idea of the progress of vaccination programs before we can make informed decisions. We will continue to be guided by the principles outlined in the original CUSP report and, as always, our top priorities are to ensure the health and safety of our community, and to provide students with an excellent education and student experience no matter the circumstances. We will be asking for your patience over the early months of 2021 as we work toward these important decisions.
Last week was Bell Let’s Talk Day and every year this provides an important reminder to pause and consider our mental health and wellbeing. Among the many activities on campus, let me highlight an incredibly powerful keynote by Indigenous author Jesse Thistle speaking to his must-read, bestselling memoir “From the Ashes,” as well as Psychology Let’s Talk Day featuring Dr. Erin Reid. I also took this opportunity to write a short opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen on the role the university of the future needs to play in fostering individual and collective wellness.
In that spirit, I want to acknowledge that the pandemic and the restrictions that it imposes on all of us can lead to negative emotions and more serious issues. No one has to suffer alone – please reach out to a friend, tap into your network or make use of the resources that Carleton has available. All Carleton employees, as well as family members who need support, can reach out to the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) by calling 1-877-725-5676 or through the myfseap.ca portal. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the many services available to support success and wellbeing through the pandemic, and to continue to avail themselves of compassionate grading options this winter.
A key component of our shared wellness is mutual respect, and I am thankful to the Carleton community for the patience, care and compassion that has been shown throughout the pandemic. We are all under additional strain, and it is essential that we all continue to take personal responsibility for the quality of our social interactions – including social media posts. We must continue to support each other, to discuss and disagree respectfully, and to remember that the people we interact with, whether in person or virtually, all carry their own burdens. Flexibility and compassion remain our best allies.
In closing, every week I am blown away by the quality and impact of events and initiatives taking place at Carleton. Just in the past few days we held our annual Sexual Assault Awareness Week, commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day and welcomed Martin Luther King III at the annual SOAR conference, a fantastic way to launch Black History Month. We can also all look forward to the 2nd annual Kinàmàgawin Symposium and the always wonderful Service Excellence Awards – a record 482 nominations have been submitted. Hope to see you there and, in the meantime, I wish everyone an excellent week!
President and Vice-Chancellor