President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 marked the start of the spring term with a welcome message to the Dartmouth community, noting with optimism the progress of vaccinations, cautioning that this is not the time to let up on precautions, and praising the determination and compassion of all at Dartmouth in responding to the hardships and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just over a year ago, at the start of the pandemic, I wrote to you and urged you all, as a united Dartmouth community, to rise to the challenge together with creativity, resilience, and compassion for one another, and you did. One year later, with the final months of this ordeal in sight, I ask that of you, once more,” President Hanlon wrote in a community message Monday afternoon.
“Thankfully, promise is in the air,” he wrote. With the roll-out of vaccines progressing rapidly, “we are eager to work with potential partners to help vaccinate as many of our community members as possible.” In addition, with the arrival of spring, Hanlon said he looks forward to there being more opportunities for safe outdoor activities and, “I especially look forward to the return of our seniors to campus and to the special role they play as leaders and mentors in modeling a welcoming community. And I want nothing more than to celebrate commencement with all of our graduates convened together.”
But this is not the time to let one’s guard down, he cautioned.
“We saw, last month, just how quickly an outbreak can occur on our campus when guidelines are not followed, and how much more restrictive we must be when it does. It is crucial that we remain vigilant on masking, distancing, testing and contact tracing throughout spring term, despite the fatigue that all of us are experiencing,” Hanlon wrote. “Most importantly, we must continue to be empathetic and supportive of those around us.”
Hanlon recognized the hardships, sacrifices, and loss brought on by the pandemic and the effects of the social upheaval of the past year on people across the globe and close to home.
“Here at Dartmouth, we’ve missed out on many of the face-to-face interactions that draw us together as a community. The tremendous sacrifices required to keep our community healthy have left many feeling isolated, stressed and alone. Worst of all, we are coping with the heartbreaking loss of Beau DuBray and Connor Tiffany, two cherished members of the Class of ’24,” Hanlon wrote.
“As we begin spring term, we must all continue to look out for one another, and I encourage any of you who are struggling to seek help for yourselves or for others who may need it through any of the campus resources available to you.”
Dartmouth’s leaders will be increasing the level of communications with the community throughout the spring term as the vaccine rollout progresses and case monitoring continues, with the goal of being as clear as possible about requirements and expectations as they evolve, Hanlon wrote.
“Throughout our 250-year history, we’ve proven that Dartmouth’s academic mission and traditions can withstand wars, recessions and depressions, and the disruptions of a global pandemic. Indeed, this year has served as a reminder that our bonds to each other and to the college are stronger than any obstacle we face,” Hanlon wrote.
“I know I can count on all of you for your continued cooperation as we travel this last mile.”
For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic visit the Dartmouth Together: COVID-19 Information website.