Dear AU Community,
We are nearing the conclusion of an unprecedented semester, and through both challenges and achievements, the strength of our community has been remarkable. The hallmark of strong communities is staying connected and supportive in tough times and moving forward in our pursuits. We are making important progress in our key strategic areas, our momentum continues, and we remain focused on the health and safety of our community. As our thoughts turn to the holidays, it’s also a time to be thankful for the amazing contributions that members of our community make every day.
The AU community, our Washington, DC, neighborhood, the nation, and the world are still talking about the 2020 election, and as always, our changemakers are in the middle of the action. Seven AU alumni were elected or re-elected to Congress, Sarah McBride (SPA/BA ‘13) was elected as the first openly transgender state senator, and our students participated in democracy in many ways. And on Thursday, the Kennedy Political Union (KPU) and the School of Communication (SOC) welcomed legendary journalist Bob Woodward for a virtual discussion of this unprecedented political time.
Across the university, we continue to work on our strategic priorities. For example, the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning’s (CTRL) Inclusive Pedagogy faculty fellows and faculty colleagues launched the Fall 2020 Critical Perspectives on Teaching and Learning Series, which focuses on issues including trauma-informed teaching, inclusively integrating current events in the curriculum, and meaningfully engaging the issues faced by AU students of color in the classroom. While the pandemic continues to present challenges, our community is finding ways to move forward.
We also see these advancements in our ramp up of activity in many areas. Reservations are available for students to use campus meeting spaces and the Cassell Fitness Center. And our Eagles Everywhere program continues to bring our community members together in many ways, which is critical as we build and maintain connections no matter where we are.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday and the COVID-19 case counts reach new highs across the country, health and safety are more important than ever. Please continue to be vigilant in wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and following public health guidance. If you are planning to travel for the holiday, please complete the Personal Travel Notification form to receive helpful information. While there is hopeful news about treatments and vaccines, the pandemic remains a concern everywhere, and we cannot let our guard down as COVID-19 hospitalizations are at record levels and the 7-day average of new deaths per day has risen by 60 percent in the past month. I know the limitations and interruptions in our lives make pandemic fatigue very real. These struggles are wearing on all of us, but if we can keep our commitment to good health practices now, we can make progress in the coming months.
Finally, I want to celebrate some of the great contributions from our community. Seeing the achievements and passion of our students, faculty, and staff remind us that no matter the circumstances, AU Eagles create the change that the world needs. Recently, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) unveiled the second annual First Gen Digital Yearbook to connect AU’s first generation students with the broad community of our faculty and staff who also identify as the first members of their families to attend college. And first year student Kaya Suner launched a non-profit that connects hospitalized COVID-19 patients with loved ones by collecting and distributing gently-used digital devices. Kaya has already brought 650 devices to hospitals in Rhode Island.
Our AU community continues to place an incredible premium on caring for one another and building connections wherever we go. This is what makes our Eagle family so special. As we approach the holiday season, especially this year, let us remember to continue looking to each other, and looking out for one another.
Be safe and be well.