Campus Update – December 2021

December 17, 2021
Kim A. Wilcox
December 17, 2021

Dear Campus Community: 


As we come to the end of the year, we are monitoring the rapid progression of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and its impact on other higher education institutions. While we don’t know yet how this may impact us, we know that behaviors we practiced this year will continue to be important in 2022. Vaccine boosters, testing, and continued indoor masking are three ways we can continue to protect ourselves and our community. 


During our winter break, I strongly encourage you to get your vaccine booster and get a COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus for the winter quarter. 


Vaccines are truly a marvel. That a small amount of fluid resembling a disease can be introduced into the body to activate an immune response is impressive science. The fact that a body learns from the experience and “remembers” how to respond when it encounters actual disease is also remarkable. Most of us don’t get to watch how this occurs in cells. But 2021 offered plenty of opportunity to observe the relationship between exposure and strength across campus and throughout our community.


In January we received our first vaccine doses for front-line health care workers. Then, teams across UC Riverside and UCR Health coordinated to vaccinate additional health care workers, patients, employees, and students. With the distribution of vaccines in progress, we began working concurrently on return to mostly in-person classes in the fall quarter. 


By late spring, we had begun to reopen more buildings and offices across campus before the country began to confront the new Delta variant of COVID-19. When students showed up on campus, they arrived vaccinated and ready to wear masks, committed to safety for themselves and one another. We welcomed them with new residences, classroom spaces, and building upgrades. 


Before we arrived at fall, however, we celebrated our 2020 and 2021 graduates with an opportunity to walk across a stage and receive a diploma. While graduations are a time for joy, they are also a time to say good-bye. Unfortunately, there were too many good-byes this year. I don’t imagine many within our community haven’t experienced the loss of a relative, friend, or colleague over the past year. We mourn with and for all those experiencing grief.


Moving ahead while balancing through highs and lows yielded a rhythm to the year that was slow and sometimes awkward. But of everything to remember from this year, what stands out to me is a sense of community spirit. We didn’t tackle challenges alone. We did it together. 


Each of you plays a vital role in the life of this university. Thank you for your many important contributions this year. Together, using the strengths we showed in 2021, we will reach for new heights in 2022.


Happy holidays.