Dear Members of the Harvard Chan School Community,
We write as we are all facing some grim milestones: more than 500,000 people dead from COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 2.5 million worldwide, and an entire year of working, teaching, and learning remotely. This was certainly not how we imagined our lives would be when we all left campus last March, many of us thinking that we’d only be gone from the School for a week or two.
This last year has stretched us thin emotionally and mentally. Physical restrictions have taken their toll as well. Yet for all the displacement, the hardship, and the sorrow, we have learned just how resilient we are, as individuals and as a community. There is hope in this recognition. There is hope in the rollout of vaccines. And there is hope in the fact that this current situation will not be permanent. We will be able to be out and about again, to gather together in camaraderie and joy again, to worship and play and resume a sense of normalcy. This future still requires us to be patient, and to continue to be vigilant in practicing our public health measures. But it will come.
To help us mark this unforgettable year, in its heartache as well as its silver linings, we are launching an online Reflection Wall where faculty, researchers, staff, and students can share brief tributes: a memorial for a loved one lost to the pandemic, a thank you to someone who has been helpful in navigating the past year, a message of gratitude or reflection, or any type of tribute you may wish to submit. You may begin submitting messages on March 8. The Reflection Wall will become live at noon ET on March 16, the one-year anniversary of the closing of our campus, and remain active as a community gallery through April 15. We hope it will serve as a virtual gathering space in which we can share our collective thoughts about the difficult year we have all just weathered.
We also are announcing a meeting-free day on Friday, March 19. On that day, we are asking that managers not schedule any Zoom meetings, so that people can have time to work, think, and reflect. We hope that this pause, too, will allow us some space to acknowledge how far we have come through adversity and to look forward to the coming months with hope.
We have heard the phrase “We are all in this together” many, many times during the past year. But it resonates because it is true. None of us could have made it through this year without the support and kindness of others. Please continue to care for those around you and stay safe and healthy as we head toward a brighter time in the next few months.
Michelle, Katie, and Jane
Michelle A. Williams
Dean of the Faculty
Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development
Katherine A. Hope
Executive Dean for Administration
Jane J. Kim
Dean for Academic Affairs
K.T. Li Professor of Health Economics