Many of us had hoped for better things in 2021 and, indeed, there are reasons for optimism. But the images of violence at the Capitol that propelled us into this new year left an indelible imprint. While details are still emerging, the presence of symbols of white supremacy and anti-Semitism displayed by some of those involved in the insurrection was jarring. Those symbols, compounded with the muted response and violence that ensued, were deeply disturbing and a potent reminder of the racism and bigotry that persists in our society.
It is tempting to describe those acts as isolated or un-American, but we know that for many BIPOC members of our community the fear experienced by many of us as we watched events unfold is all too familiar. All of this is to say that we must dig deep and work harder to root out racism and model our shared values around diversity, equity and inclusion. Here in the College, work continues to address systemic racism. Our anti-racism working group is finalizing recommendations and we will host a town hall this spring to share their recommendations and gather input from the broader CBS community.
As a community, we also have reasons for optimism about the future. Late last week, the Board of Regents gave their approval for the University to headquarter the Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE) on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. This transformational initiative comes with a promise of at least $87.5 million in federal funding from the Department of Defense and an additional $180 million in non-federal resources pledged to the institute. As a result, BioMADE is poised to catalyze our state and region’s economy. You can read more about it here. BioMADE will create many new opportunities for our faculty and students for years to come.
Ultimately, though, it’s the work you do day to day supporting the development of future scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, policymakers and healthcare professionals that inspires the most hope. Thank you for your efforts during this difficult and often dispiriting time and looking forward to brighter times ahead.