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Dear Colleagues:

These last three years have passed incredibly quickly and incredibly slowly at the same time.  That is the way of it for endeavors that take the best our hearts and minds have to offer. The days are long but the years, at least in hindsight, feel short. I have a lot of thinking and remembering to do this summer to make sense of all that has transpired since you elected me in April of 2020.

Toward the end of the semester, Abby Pender at the DTH came to my office for an interview.  She is one of several DTH reporters whom I’ve developed a soft spot for, and I was pleased she chose to do the closing interview with me.  Her questions helped me begin reflecting on my time as Chair of the Faculty and prompted me to remember moments that everyone knows about and some that most people don’t.

Oddly enough, it was not the “newspaper moments” that let me know how important this job has been. Rather, it was the quiet moments that stand out when I think about what has been most meaningful to me.  The Well was kind enough to let me write a piece in their COVID Diaries series about my dad and his death from COVID.  Putting the piece together was cathartic, but what happened afterwards stood me still. Dozens of people from across campus wrote to me, many from the medical side of campus.  These were not sympathy notes.  They were stories.  A few were about their own COVID experiences.  But most were about the parents they’d lost 10 or 15 years before. They talked about how they missed them, what they’d learned from them, how they carried those relationships forward in their daily life.

Then there was a Saturday afternoon phone call from a faculty member I know. It was soon after the difficult student deaths on our campus and she was crying. She wanted to talk about particular needs around the students in her classes. She said to me, “I’m sorry to bother you.  This faculty doesn’t have a union.  But we have you and so I called.”

When the Dobbs decision came out almost a year ago, I was waiting to decide whether to write something to the campus.  I was worried it would create a kerfuffle if I did.  But then I got a message that said,

“Please write something about this decision. I haven’t told anyone.  But I am happily newly pregnant.  But now I can’t go to the main professional meeting for my discipline.  It is in a state where, if anything went wrong and I miscarried, I won’t get the standard of care. I’m not yet tenured.  Those meetings are important.  I’m afraid for my career.”

I’ve heard the saying that you can’t lead from your inbox.  But I think what I’ve learned is that you can’t lead without it. When people write or call, it is because they believe in you, believe you can help, even if help means simply giving voice to their concerns or listening to what is on their mind.  There was a Sunday afternoon when another campus leader called when they were in over their head. Or when a now graduated DTH reporter texted saying, “I’m not allowed to tell anyone. But I can tell you. I got the job!”  These moments make all the harder moments worth it. Your voice, your concerns, your affirmations kept me going.

Leaving this role right now is not easy with our campus situation almost as unsettled as when I entered.  Our new chair, Beth Moracco, will have her share of challenges, and I would so like to turn over the reins in fairer weather.  She has good partners in Jill Moore, the Secretary of the Faculty and the great staff of the Office of Faculty Governance. But her best partners will be those who elected her – you, the faculty of the nation’s first public university, a place that has stood up time and again to embrace changes that have made and will make the world a better and more equitable place. It is my great honor to have represented such a group.

Thank you,



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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