President’s Corner: Remembering the past year with a spring in our steps
Dear Salve Regina,
As the anniversary of last year’s spring closure approaches, I think about how much we have gone through together at Salve Regina over the past year.
I have flashes of memories from those early days of the pandemic. On Feb. 25, we had just hosted Cornel West, one of the best speakers I’ve ever witnessed, and we were deep into plans for other spring 2020 events. Our first signs of trouble started with our study abroad students in Italy as we worried about getting them home safely, and this was quickly followed by the NCAA cancellation of spring sports. I can picture our campus leaders sitting around a conference table in Ochre Court, running through scenario after scenario, hoping on hope that we would be back in session by Easter.
A year later now, I am still amazed by what our University has accomplished — managing to remain open and in-person for much of the year, made possible by the engineering feats of our community to transform the campus. This semester we came through our “campus pause” successfully and our COVID-19 numbers are shrinking, thank God. The vaccine rollout is starting to gain momentum, and it looks like there will be spring sports in play soon.
We are battle-worn and carry some scars, but we are intact. This long ordeal feels as if the end is finally in sight, and I’ve noticed it in the way we carry ourselves as we move across campus. Heads are uplifted and there’s a bit of spring in our steps.
Last week with those longer sunny days, we saw hints of the arrival of spring on our campus with bright blue skies and the sparkling ocean. It was heartwarming to see groups of students heading down to the Cliff Walk just to witness the sheer beauty of our stunning views. I noticed baseball/softball bats and tennis rackets appearing again in backpacks. And keeping to a treasured tradition, Multicultural Education Week hosted fantastic programs in spite of online limitations.
As we round out our last couple of months of this academic year, we have SRYou Student Exposition to look forward to on March 24, the first annual Mercy Equity and Inclusion Summit on April 9, and another Salve Surprise Day with a chance for us to engage as a community.
Commencement will be in person — and although we know it has restrictions, it’s an improvement over our fully virtual environment a year ago. Many predictions are out there for a much better summer ahead with a fall on campus that has mostly “normal” elements.
At a virtual faculty lunch a week ago with Nancy Schreiber and about 10 faculty, it was clear that although we are all so tired, there’s still an underlying sense of gratitude for what we do have as a community compared to so many. Miguel Romero gently reminded us of these gifts, and his words have been in my head ever since. We’ll keep going, grateful to be together and for our good health, with our sights on the warmer days in front of us.
As we head to spring, we will march on, Salve Regina!
P.S. Today is my mother’s 82 birthday, and I try to visit her each week in my parents’ garage where we can find a little shelter but still socially distance. This time we celebrated with a cake and unlit candles, singing behind our masks. In spite of the odd times, I’m glad to be in her presence and so relieved that she has remained healthy, as she is a constant source of inspiration. She is perennially upbeat though her world has become so restricted. Thank you, Salve Regina, for your constant optimism and faith.