Dear Harvard College Students,
I write to share my heartfelt congratulations to all of you for finishing this very challenging academic year. I continue to be in awe of the perseverance and strength you have shown over these past fifteen months, even in the face of enormous sacrifices, losses, and hardships.
As we look to the future, we can see parallels with the past. After World War I and the 1918 pandemic, the United States entered a period of dramatic social and political change that would ultimately reconfigure the way we live and work. That post-war period also saw an acceleration of the social movements for civil, gender, immigrant, and workers’ rights. As we continue to strive for a more equitable society, history reminds us that we should believe that we can change society for the better, but also that change does not come easily.
Unlike in 1918, our advanced technology allowed us to stay connected over this past year and to benefit from the remarkable science undertaken around the world at astonishing speed. The dawn of our new normal would not have been possible without the dedication of the many people — including many Harvard University alumni and community members — who worked to keep teaching the young, healing the sick, communicating public health practices, showing up daily to clean and feed our communities, and developing vaccines and treatments. I hope our community will find inspiration from the unwavering determination of these citizens and citizen leaders as they served locally and nationally, genuinely exemplifying the mission of our institution.
While it is difficult to acknowledge, the pandemic is not yet behind us, and the upcoming year will be a time of transition for all of us. As we say goodbye to this academic year, I will carry forward with me the pride and gratitude I have for all that you did to support our community during this truly unprecedented time. I wish each of you a restorative summer, and I am looking forward to seeing you on campus in the fall.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College