Chancellor Carol Christ: ‘Our community is the light’

Chancellor Carol Christ sent the following message to the campus community Friday: 

As the year and our fall semester draw to a close, I, like so many of you, am reflecting on the unexpected and challenging road we have travelled, and thinking about what awaits us. Even as we plan to continue in-person instruction next semester, I realize there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the pandemic’s future course, and how it may alter our lives and the life of our university. (An update on planning for spring semester is posted to the campus coronavirus sitewhich we will continue to keep updated.) Yet, even as unanswered questions abound, what I have learned about our community, about what we are collectively capable of, gives me a great deal of confidence and hope for the future.

At the same time, I am painfully aware of how difficult these days have been for so many of you, and for so many of your loved ones. The persistent threats to our health and our well-being are real and take a heavy toll. Continued restrictions on so many of our once-routine activities have hindered our ability to connect with, and gain support from, the ones we love. The socioeconomic and racial inequities amplified and exacerbated by COVID remind us of the unfinished work we must complete before there is true social justice and equity.

These are times, I believe, when the power and importance of community are at their peak. These are some of the reasons I am so grateful for all of the many ways you, our students, staff, faculty, and alumni, have risen, time and again, in support of each other, our university and the greater good. With every new day comes a new lesson about your resilience and perseverance, about the strength and encouragement we derive from the ties that bind us together. We have become a place of learning in the broadest, grandest sense of the word.

I only wish I had the ability to personally thank each and every front-line worker, from the cooks and the custodians, to the physicians, nurses and staff at UHS, the student affairs advisors, coaches, UCPD officers, and so many, many more, for their selfless devotion. I am constantly awed by the innovation and inspiration our faculty are bringing to the classroom and laboratory. I am humbled by our students’ unquenchable thirst for learning, and by their steadfast efforts and advocacy that are helping to build a more diverse student body, and a more welcoming, supportive campus environment. I am thankful for the thousands of alumni whose generosity is helping to support students in need, spur academic innovation, and ensure we will have the means and facilities to sustain Berkeley’s access and excellence for many years to come.

I believe that our campus community’s wonderful diversity of perspectives rests on a strong foundation of shared values. And so, I am confident that we can and will sustain our unity of purpose and communitarian cohesion.  I have faith that we will, together, continue to successfully confront COVID’s challenges by following the dictates of science and data, and the guidelines that protect our own health and the health of others. It is with that in mind, that I offer my one request: Over the course of this winter break, and over the course of the months to come, please take time to care for yourself and to connect or reconnect with your friends and families. If you feel overwhelmed, in need of support, please seek it out. At your disposal are extraordinary programs and people who are ready and able to lend a helping hand.

Let me finish by reiterating my belief that while this may be a perilous time, so, too, is it a time of creative ferment and possibility….and that is prime time for this public university. Berkeley is as strong as its people, as its community, and from where I sit that bodes well – very well – for the road ahead. With that, I wish all of you a wonderful, restful and restorative holiday season.