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Dear Colleagues:

As the fall semester gets fully underway, I wanted to take a moment to welcome you back to campus. Although we know everything is not “normal” with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are certainly in a very different place than we were this time last year and the year before that. Vaccines and medical interventions have expanded our choices for how we respond to the pandemic allowing us to gather and to teach in ways that at least many of us prefer. That said, we have all weathered a lot these last few years. Bravo to all of us for showing up for our students and for each other during tough times. They are not over, and they will come again. Let’s accept the joy of a simple walk across campus, a positive interaction with a student, recognition for our scholarship, or a chance to cheer at a football game whenever we can.

On September 9th from 3–5, we will hold our first Faculty Council meeting of the year. Whether or not you are an elected member of Faculty Council, I hope this is a meeting you’ll choose to attend. You are welcome to join me in-person in 1001 Kerr Hall or watch remotely on the livestream. As usual, the meeting will be recorded and posted to the Faculty Governance website.

Here’s why this meeting is particularly important. Over the summer, issues around faculty speech surfaced in a series of faculty conversations that I, together with the Faculty Executive Committee, held. Following those group conversations, others contacted me to share experiences. Having now briefed the Chancellor, Provost, the Trustees, and the Deans, I need to talk with you about these situations as well. Collectively we need to hear from experts on our First Amendment rights, and as a body, we may choose to take some further action. All faculty would benefit from attending this meeting and I hope you will prioritize it.

We live in a time where many things are simultaneously true. There is exciting teaching, research, and service happening daily in every corner of this campus. We should celebrate and champion that reality. And there are aspects of our campus life that we need to speak about and improve. Faculty governance is a way to lift up both realities. Please join me on September 9th at Faculty Council.


Mimi V. Chapman, MSW, PhD
Chair of the Faculty
Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor for Human Service Policy Information
Associate Dean for Doctoral Education
School of Social Work

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