The end of an academic year is a time for celebration and reflection. This year is no different despite our altered circumstances. On Saturday, around half of the graduating class will take their assigned seats in 3M Arena at Mariucci and have the opportunity to walk across the stage as their name is called. No faculty or family will be in attendance, but this small step toward normality feels good all the same. As always, our graduates are an inspiration.
We know there is no “going back” to normal in some respects. Tragic events of the past year sparked a reckoning around racism, bias and inequities and the role they play in our lives and in our institutions. Within CBS, we launched an effort to look more closely at processes, policies and the overall climate we create with an eye to pinpointing where we fall short.
Last month, we held an anti-racism town hall to discuss recommendations for moving this work forward. In a follow-up message, I outlined some of the steps we will take in the short term, among them creating a community of practice for sharing information across the college. The goal is for each unit and department to designate someone to participate in the group and bring what they learn back to their colleagues.
Ensuring access to opportunities
Inequities take many forms, one of them being access to paid research and internship opportunities for our undergraduates. Many students cannot afford to volunteer in a lab as a means of gaining valuable research experience. Given the choice between the short-term need to earn money and the long-term benefit of research experience, the former often supersedes the latter.
As a college, we are committed to ensuring every student has an authentic research experience. With that in mind, we launched the CBS Dean’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program to provide an avenue for students who might otherwise opt for a summer job to work in a faculty lab instead. Interest in the program is strong. Looking ahead, we plan to make this a fundraising priority to ensure that paid research opportunities are available to all students.
Assuming all goes well, we will be back on campus this fall and staff will be able to return to campus even sooner. As we consider the future, please take a moment to share your thoughts about the post-COVID workplace through the CBS Future-of-Work Survey. The University will provide general guidance in the near future, but we want to hear from you about how you think work should look in CBS moving forward.
This has been a challenging year on many fronts. I am grateful to all of you for your contributions. I hope you have an opportunity to take a well-deserved break, reconnect with family and friends, and explore social spaces again in coming months as pandemic restrictions ease.