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Welcome to Winter Quarter

Dear Weinberg College Community,

To you and your loved ones, I offer my very best wishes for the new year. Looking back over the last months, it is extraordinary the hurdles we have cleared. But clearly challenges remain. And for some in our community, these challenges are particularly daunting. With this in mind, let’s enter this new academic term with the courage to acknowledge difficulties, to support those in need, and to focus with reason and optimism on what we can productively offer to one another. For us in Weinberg College, this means concentrating on our dual mission of education and research.

It is, of course, impossible to ignore the turmoil in Washington D.C. last week. Here in the College, in our classes, offices, and laboratories, we engage in the rigorous work of developing strong, reliable data, logical conclusions, and creative solutions. Many of our faculty colleagues study the forms and problems of liberal democracy, and students debate its strengths and weaknesses. I hope that we can continue to promote civil and productive forms of communication and debate, and in doing so, model a profound critique of the insurrection we witnessed last week. 

To our students: welcome to those of you who can be on campus this term and welcome too to those who are joining remotely. You are all a part of our community, and I hope that through your courses, research, and social interactions you find meaning and pleasure. We always aim to care for others with our actions. In these times, this is especially true. Please continue to use face coverings, physically distance, wash your hands, and engage in other measures that demonstrate your care for others.

This holds true for faculty and staff colleagues, who continue to make extraordinary efforts to ensure that students can make progress toward their degrees and that our research enterprise continues to produce the new knowledge that helps enrich and sustain our spirits, our bodies, and our environment. The rapid responses taken by you all in 2020 helped us through a very difficult period. There is, however, a long way still to go.

We continue to ask chairs and directors to work with us to identify creative ways to reduce administrative work and enhance research support for faculty colleagues facing particular difficulties. The first round of WR2 (Weinberg Research Recovery) grants are being reviewed now; these are intended to help researchers refocus on their projects. I also want to call attention to the curricular enhancement summer grants for teaching-track faculty. We cannot ignore the very real problems we still face, but hopefully we can continue to take steps to offer support when and where we can.

We need to keep developing ways to implement long-term plans and to devise creative ways to respond to the opportunities afforded by the crisis. This means:
The College’s strategy—Interdisciplinary Thinking for a Complex World—has helped us stay the course in difficult times. Using this helpful framework, we will now assess its success and develop new initiatives and plans that match our ambitions and those of the University. We will continue to build on Faculty and Research Excellence, the bedrock of our identity and mission; we will look for new ways for students to develop what we think of as a Northwestern Mindset—an adaptable and positive view of the world that encourages curiosity, service, and freedom of expression; and, thinking about Weinberg in the World, we will continue to strengthen the way our teaching and research engages with global issues and international partners. On these foundations, Weinberg College will continue to evolve and improve.

So thank you for all you have done to help us get through the academic year to date. Teaching last quarter, I saw first-hand how undergraduate students were both thriving and struggling with remote learning, and how my excellent graduate student instructors navigated a world where their research lives were scrambled by external forces. I also witnessed daily the dedication and humor of my staff colleagues. I look forward to a time when we can all be together on campus. And, to the faculty members who have reconfigured their teaching, thanks for your hard work. Finally, thank you to the parents and alumni who have stuck with us in these difficult times. I have spoken to hundreds of you over the last months. I speak now for Weinberg College students, faculty, and staff in expressing appreciation for your offers to help, with actions, words, and financial support. You are key to our success.

Again, best wishes for 2021. I hope very much to be able to see you all in this, very special year.

Adrian

Adrian Randolph
Dean
Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences
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