Welcome to a new academic year

Date: 
Monday, August 16, 2021

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

I am excited that we can welcome all our students back to campus this semester for in-person teaching and learning, and I look forward to seeing you. Our plans for this semester are based on the advice of public health experts and on all that we learned last year from successfully reactivating research across campus and conducting in-residence education for many of our students. We will create the most enriching educational environment possible this year while of course prioritizing the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, and all those we encounter in the broader community.

As I prepare for the fall semester, I am reminded of the palpable energy and catalytic potential we create when we study and work in person. I cherish how our campus comes alive when we—a vibrant, creative community of people from all parts of the world and so many varied backgrounds—can together experience all that our university offers.

Much as I have come to appreciate what online platforms enabled us to accomplish these last 18 months, I am excited about what we will achieve when faculty and students return to the classroom and when staff members phase back to in-person work. I know many of you are looking forward to a return to informal meetings and unscheduled conversations. Our return will be informed by the resiliency all of us built from remote work and teaching. By merging new educational tools and technological innovations with our on-campus resources, we will stimulate learning and collaboration across the university.

I also am eager for you to see the changes on our campus. You will find many new and renovated facilities that benefit teaching and community building, including the Humanities Quadrangle, Schwarzman Center, and Tsai CITY as well as beautifully revived places for enjoying our outdoor landscape, such as Sachem’s Wood and Alexander Walk. Provost Scott Strobel and I will soon send a message highlighting all the facilities updates that have taken place over the past year and a half.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Yale has shown both an enthusiasm for on-campus learning and an ability to keep rates of COVID infection remarkably low. At the same time, I know these uncertain months have taken a toll on each of us. The return to campus for those who have been away for over a year can bring challenges, especially for those of you with children in daycare or school or with other family responsibilities. I encourage you to learn about the campus life resources we have put in place.

Although I look forward with excitement to returning to in-person teaching and learning, the fluid nature of the pandemic might again require adjustments to Yale’s classes or workplaces. Last week, Provost Strobel and Senior Vice President for Operations Jack Callahan updated you about our phased approach to on-campus activities in the fall semester and our health and safety infrastructure. As you read in their email and in other messages from university leaders during the pandemic, Yale will be ready to modify our policies as needed to safeguard your and the general public’s health.

We have implemented many actions to promote the safety and welfare of our community, such as our vaccine policies, arrival COVID-19 testing for students, and ongoing testing for all undergraduates and graduate students living in congregate housing. To provide you additional information about public health conditions and precautions and to address your questions about the pandemic, I am hosting an online town hall meeting on August 26 at 4:00 pm. You will have the opportunity to hear directly from Yale experts who are advising the university on how to conduct responsibly an in-person semester. You will be able to submit questions in advance and during the meeting. Please look for my formal invitation later this week.

I am grateful to the faculty, staff, and students who have ensured that Yale can continue to engage in education, research, scholarship, preservation, and practice of the highest caliber despite the challenges of a pandemic. I hope you will join me in greeting the new academic year with gratitude for the resilience of our community, with excitement about the prospect of being able to support one another and Yale’s mission in person, and with a continued commitment to safeguarding our community’s health.

Sincerely,

Peter Salovey
President
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology