Dear Harvard College Parents, Families and Guardians,
As we approach the end of a year unlike any we could have ever imagined, there is simply no way that I can adequately express my gratitude for each and every one of you, and the partnership we have had during this extraordinarily challenging time.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been plenty of reasons to feel despair. We have seen so many lives taken by this deadly virus, a toll that continues to grow with each passing day. And just when it felt that dark times could not get any darker, our nation was besieged by the killing of innocent Black men and women at the hands of the very people meant to protect us. These painful moments were not made any easier by the divisions that only seem to deepen with each election cycle. However, throughout all of this, an unshakable beacon of hope has been the commitment our community has shown to our students, to each other, and to our neighbors in Cambridge, Boston and across the globe.
Below is a message that I shared with our students earlier this morning, in which I write about the historic nature of the past year, and how generations of students to come will marvel at what our community did to look out for one another this past year. None of this would be possible without your tremendous partnership, and I am so grateful for all that you have done.
Thank you, and I look forward to better days ahead with all of you.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College
Dear Harvard College Students,
As we head into the winter break, I am trying to find the words to capture all that we have been through and witnessed together over the last year, yet it is hard to find just the right ones. Experiences that seemed so routine back in January and February – sharing meals in the homes of friends and loved ones, sitting together in a theater or sporting event, being in a physical classroom with your peers and faculty – now feel like memories from another lifetime. I am hopeful that these cherished routines and countless others will return one day soon, yet it is hard not to feel their absence, especially at this time of year.
For me, the winter holidays are a time to pause and reflect, something there has been precious little time for since the start of the pandemic. I am especially mindful that whatever successes, failures, hardships, or opportunities lie ahead for us, the year 2020 will continue to be remembered and studied for centuries. Someday, a group of students will be sitting in one of our dining halls, or in a quiet corner of Widener Library, reading about the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, a year that will be ancient history to them. They will learn about the resilient students who quickly moved off campus when it became clear that the virus could not be held off any longer; the students who shifted to remote learning at a pace that previously seemed unthinkable; and the students who came to campus in the fall of 2020 facing restrictions that I hope will seem unimaginable to them.
Amidst the pain, sorrow, and moral reckoning we face as a society, I continue to draw inspiration from how you have adapted to our new reality to support our community's health and well-being. The power that you hold to have a positive impact on the world is limitless, and it is the reason I have such hope for 2021 and for the future. I wish you a safe, healthy, and relaxing winter break, and I look forward to continuing our journey together in the spring.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College