Compassion and community will guide return to U of G campuses

Our mission to Improve Life has seen U of G researchers and alumni make important contributions toward prevention and recovery efforts.

The world has changed dramatically since March 2020. Our campuses have been quiet; while essential services and research are ongoing, most classes moved online.

There is little I have missed more than running into students and colleagues while waiting for coffee at the Bullring and University Centre. Over the past few months, I have invited students, staff and faculty for coffee virtually. I have appreciated the candour with which community members have shared accomplishments, obstacles and lessons from the past year.

What is most apparent in our discussions is the compassion: students checking in on peers’ mental health, instructors holding additional online office hours and staff keeping colleagues inspired with humour. And I have seen that compassion extend to the broader community.

When we called for volunteers for the community vaccination clinic at the University Centre, the response was overwhelming. As of May, U of G has vaccinated over 22,000 people with the help of hundreds of volunteers. U of G’s partnership with Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin Public Health and the Guelph Family Health Team is truly helping Improve Life.

Our mission to Improve Life has also seen U of G researchers and alumni make important contributions toward prevention and recovery efforts. Drs. Lawrence Goodridge and Ed McBean are developing a wastewater test that facilitates early detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To address vaccine hesitancy, Dr. Maya Goldenberg is providing expertise on building trust in public institutions and health providers. And alumnus Attilio Di Fiore, B.Sc. ’92, is president of ATTWILL Vascular Technologies, a company testing a tablet-based COVID-19 vaccine that would not require transportation in cold temperatures like injection-based vaccines.

The University has also made strides on our long-term goals. Consultations to support the Strategic Framework refresh are well under way. The University’s budget plan was reviewed to ensure it will offset sector-wide challenges caused by the pandemic and maintain our legacy of fiscal sustainability. We have also implemented plans to further equity through the President’s Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism and the launch of the Indigenous Initiatives Strategy Report.

As U of G nears the end of the academic year, my respect for our community and my optimism for where we are headed continue to grow. As we look to the fall, I am confident the compassion that has fuelled our resiliency will guide the eventual return of more students, faculty and staff to our campuses.

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