Members of the UT Dallas community:
It was this time last year when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared to be a worldwide threat. Tragically, in these last 12 months, the pandemic has turned lives upside down and taken a massive toll throughout the world, including the lives of more than half-a-million Americans.
When we made the decision to not come back to campus in March 2020 after spring break, we did so without knowing when and how we would return. Our primary focus was to do everything possible to slow the spread of the virus.
Sometimes it felt as if we were running a long-distance race with no finish line in sight. Nevertheless, we have found our footing on this uncharted path during the last 12 months — connecting in new ways, keeping each other safe, tackling difficult topics — and all while providing a life-enhancing UT Dallas education.
I commend our faculty and staff whose dedication has kept our University operating even during the most difficult of times. Our students also deserve great praise. They have shown remarkable tenacity in achieving their academic and personal goals. All of you inspire me.
Now, one year later, we are again preparing for spring break. This time, we know so much more about COVID-19 and the precautions that we must take to keep ourselves, our friends and our families safe. While some are expressing pandemic fatigue, we must not let down our guard.
I encourage you to continue to observe social distancing, wear a mask, practice hand hygiene, respond to the Daily Health Check and avoid large gatherings. The complex lessons we have learned during this year will help shape our world.
Returning to our metaphor, now the finish line to our race is in sight. It is widely predicted that COVID vaccines will be available to all and “herd immunity” can be achieved by the end of May. Let us do our part to sprint through to the tape and celebrate the bright future ahead of us.
Have a safe and relaxing spring break.
Dr. Richard C. Benson
Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership