Campus & community, Campus news

Chancellor Carol Christ: Reflecting on a year like no other

"I believe we shall emerge stronger, wiser and far more appreciative of those things, large and small, that we once took for granted," Christ wrote in a message to the campus community

A woman in a face masks walks near Sather Gate.
This semester, students living in Berkeley's on-campus residential halls, apartments and suites must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week by University Health Services. Faculty, staff, students and postdocs with permission to work in person on the central campus or in buildings adjacent to it are required to be tested once a week. (UC Berkeley photo by Irene Yi)
A woman in a face masks walks near Sather Gate.

“I believe we have through our individual and collective efforts shown how important the notion of community is to our campus, and how essential the public research university is to our country and our world,” Chancellor Carol Christ wrote in a message to the campus community. (UC Berkeley photo by Irene Yi)

Chancellor Carol Christ sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday, March 9:

In the last year our campus community has, like the rest of the world, travelled an unexpected and often difficult road. We have been dismayed and animated by the racism and socioeconomic inequities exposed and amplified by the pandemic. We have sorely missed human connection at work, in class, and in all parts of our lives. We have mourned the loss of more than 500,000 of our fellow citizens, and millions more around the world.

Today, at 12:01pm, as the noon bells of the Campanile fall silent, I invite everyone to join together in observance of a moment of silence to honor the lives that have been lost. Then, Jeff Davis, the university carillonist, will play the following specially selected pieces as we reflect on the road we have together travelled, and the hopes we have for what lies ahead. If you’re on or near campus, you may want to open your window or step outside, pause and listen; and if you’re off campus, please tune in to the campus Facebook page for a live feed.

Reflections
by Gary White

Mysterium Coniunctionis
by Cindy Cox (former Music Department chair)

Tranquility
by Ronald Barnes

A cardboard cutout of Chancellor Christ, with a real Cal T-shirt over the shoulders, is among hundreds of fan cutouts in Haas Pavilion taking the place of real fans during the pandemic..

A cut-out of Chancellor Carol Christ, right, sits in the otherwise empty stands of Haas Pavilion. Other cardboard faces in the stands include recent Berkeley Nobel laureates and famous alumni. (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

It was exactly a year ago today that we announced the difficult but necessary decision to cease in-person instruction and shut down all but the most essential on-campus operations. For me, the moment of conviction came in a talk I heard on March 6 by Nicholas Jewell, an emeritus professor of biostatistics. He made it clear how the virus would spread exponentially, and each day of delay in imposing physical distancing measures could result in more deaths.

Throughout the crisis, we’ve been guided by these key principles: to protect the health of the community, to sustain the continuity of instruction, to preserve our research mission and to save as many jobs as we can. We are proud to have developed and implemented our plans through an equity lens to ensure we are doing everything in our power to provide equity of experience for all and care for our most vulnerable.

Today, as I reflect and think about the year that has passed, I am in awe of how every part of our campus community – students, faculty, staff, and alumni – has risen to the occasion to confront the difficult hand we were dealt. I am grateful and proud of all you have done in response to this crisis, and of your strength, creativity, and resilience. Our staff have continued to do what they must to sustain and support the excellence and scope of our academic programs, research endeavors, and student support services. Our alumni have contributed millions of dollars to support students who have struggled in the face of the pandemic’s challenges. Our faculty have flexed pedagogical muscles they never knew they had, finding new and innovative ways to convey knowledge and love of learning, virtually, through a screen. And, our students have been teaching us what it means to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and enlightenment, no matter the circumstances. Read some reflections and perspectives on the future from members of our community in Berkeley News today.

Wearing a face mask and a bright blue jacket, Chancellor Carol Christ walks toward her office in California Hall.

“I believe we shall emerge stronger, wiser and far more appreciative of those things, large and small, that we once took for granted,” Christ wrote. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

I believe we have through our individual and collective efforts shown how important the notion of community is to our campus, and how essential the public research university is to our country and our world.

While challenges and uncertainty persist, there is an ever-brightening light at the end of this tunnel, thanks in part to our government’s commitment to funding basic research which has led to the delivery of vaccines in record time. I believe we shall emerge stronger, wiser and far more appreciative of those things, large and small, that we once took for granted. For my part, I have renewed gratitude for the ties that bind us together and the role our university plays in our society and our lives. I believe that Berkeley – and all of you – are uniquely equipped to meet the demands and opportunities of these times. And I know there is no place I would rather be, physically or virtually.

I wish you all the very best in the months ahead, and urge you to continue doing all that is necessary to safeguard your health and the health of those around you.