Update From William James College President Nicholas Covino, September 11, 2021, 6 PM:
Dear William James Community,
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks by two airplanes on the World Trade Center, a third that fatally crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane that was, also fatally, brought down by a heroic group of passengers and crew in a field Pennsylvania before it reached its target. This is an iconic moment that some in this community were too young to form an impression of and others will never forget. It is a day that altered the course of airline travel for all of us, the country’s relationships with the Greater Middle East, the New York skyline, our sense of safety, the military service of many, and the lives of the family and friends of the nearly 3,000 civilians and public safety personnel who died on September 11th.
Some of you may have lost a friend or family member in this tragedy and tomorrow will be a day to connect and to remember. Ms. Elinor Stout was managing the College’s communications efforts at that time. Elinor’s son Timothy C. Stout was one of the civilians who died that day. Tim was a young father of four children who grew into young adulthood without him. Each year, we try to remember this husband, father and son and his loving family. May they all find peace.
Despite our best wishes, the hospitalizations, and infections from COVID persist. This community will join others in getting vaccinated and wearing masks. We have many faculty and students with young children who are not yet vaccinated and some within our community who are vulnerable to infection. It is difficult to know how the breakthrough infection works or how long this Delta variant will last, but we do know that these are successful strategies to protect ourselves and others. Let me add that should you feel unwell, please stay home, get a test if you have COVID symptoms and DO NOT tough it out and come to campus or work.
The experiences of last year let us know that we can learn and work online should we need to, but many of us missed the chance to connect in person, even with a mask. With a commitment to masks and vaccines, we hope to be able to continue to be together in the way that we can during this time. Please adhere to our healthy guidelines.
Another word…The return to school for parents of young children is continuing to be a challenge for some. Faculty know that they may, if an acute family need presents, create an asynchronous class that can be accessed online. Students know that they can access a class virtually if needs be, although regular virtual attendance should be worked out with their department. I share this to ask, again, for your patience with each other as we continue to cope. All of us are beyond tolerance for the demands that this pandemic has made on our lives. Even the most placid among us can access irritability, frustration, entitlement, and ager with very very little effort. BUT… please take a breath, get to a better place, and practice kindness in your interactions with each other. We can at least do that, even if we can’t stop the storm that is this virus.
In an effort to de-densify our building a bit and to allow families and those with extra COVID burdens to have some flexibility in their schedule, the College will retain our 3 in and 2 remote office arrangement until Thanksgiving. Our hope is that there will be a big move towards normalcy when young children are able to be vaccinated. If that happens much before Thanksgiving, we may reconsider this arrangement. However, until then, this schedule provides some opportunity to balance family and COVID demands. I do ask that staff be thoughtful about adding a fourth day if your presence is required for a meeting or an in-person collaboration. In an additional effort to lessen some demands, Fridays will be ‘meeting free days’, except for the alternate week All Staff hour at 10:00 am.
And let’s find joy and celebration where we can -- please make plans to join our Virtual Commencement Celebration on Sunday September 26th at 9 AM. Thanks to Anne Wilson, Denise Feeley, Lilly Manolis and a cast of busy people who are creating a meaningful and fun celebration for our grads. Following some discussion with interested students, the College will hold a ‘Hooding Ceremony’ just for graduates and faculty/staff at 4 PM on Saturday 25th. This will be an opportunity for graduates to walk across a stage, hear their name called, receive their hood, and celebrate a bit with their friends. For health reasons, this will be a graduate-only event and we ask your cooperation in our effort to be safe and appropriately celebrative.
Meridith Apfelbaum will host a community watch party when the site launches to bring us together to celebrate our grads. An outlook invite went to all calendars earlier today, I hope to see you there.
As I write this note, it is warm and sunny outside. The weekend promises to be the same. Take time to be with someone whom you care for and to enjoy the NE weather. This is one of our best times of the year!