Out of COVID, Into Summer – 5.28.21
Letter from Dean Sive - May 28, 2021

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

Last Thursday something amazing happened. My daughter Antonia, who lives in Brooklyn, called me at home and as we chatted, suddenly I heard two of her voice, like there was another phone call in parallel nearby. The first thought was that my husband was talking to her on the same call, but I remembered he was out. That other voice was right outside my office door, and when I opened it, there was my daughter! In person! With no mask. I’m two weeks after my second Pfizer she said, and we hugged just like the old days. I had not seen her since Thanksgiving 2019. Then her husband Artem appeared, and we hugged also! In one stunning second, COVID was expunged from my life. We ate dinner together, and they spent the weekend. It was emotional and wonderful. And the incident made me realize that while we are a bit nervous and may even have some nostalgia for the insular coziness of COVID-life, actually it’s thrilling and real to be with family and friends and colleagues in person again.

Across the world, there is much worry. COVID continues to soar in many countries, while war, violence and natural disasters hit us through the news and our personal connections. We send warm wishes to your affected family and friends, hoping for their safety, and improvement.

Here in Massachusetts, we have the highest percentage of vaccinated people of any US state, so we are feeling safer and more confident. Restrictions are easing, and at Northeastern in accord with state guidelines, masks will soon be optional everywhere for fully vaccinated peopleYou are not required to remove your mask. Indeed, for certain medical conditions, the guidance is to be careful. I plan to keep masked in various places, not only because a smart cloth mask has become part of my dress, but because it can be private and protective. Over the upcoming flu and cold season, we all might do well to keep a mask or two at hand. Please do whatever is comfortable, within Northeastern guidelines.

Now, it feels like summer! The semester is over and thank you once again for the outstanding work that got us through. The NUflex teaching, the distanced, masked teaching labs, the distanced, masked research we have been struggling to do. The remote work that has been challenging, lonely, and complex in view of childcare.

Summer is time for us to transition finally out of remote work, to welcome vaccinated students into our research labs, to open up your dormant office, wash out your favorite mug, order some cookies from Tatte, and share a coffee with colleagues. Summer is the time to plan your hybrid (on campus + remote) work schedule, that we are piloting in the College of Science, in accord with Northeastern guidelines. Hybrid work is a good outcome of the pandemic, benefitting the University, and making for flexible, productive work. Summer is when we are planning how to run meetings next semester – in person, online or hybrid. It will be a mix. For our large COS Community Meetings, we’ll stick with Zoom so we can meet all together, but seminar series may try hybrid – where eminent speakers from around the world can readily visit remotely and speak to in person gatherings.

Summer is in my garden, the birds busy from dawn to dark, at their feeder and frequently bathing in old pans placed on the mossy ground. How good to see other urban wildlife come to drink, smart striped chipmunks, squirrels with their impressive tails and slightly scrawny rabbits. My seedlings are up, zinnia, cosmos and milkweed adding to the goal of an insect-friendly garden, that has been such a peaceful place this pandemic. And summer is vacation time – please be sure to take some! Last June, I drove my daughter to work on a farm in northern Vermont – the rest stops were all closed, and the entire trip was scary. This summer will be better. We are driving to Vermont again, and looking forward to a relaxing time.

Work does not stop over summer, of course. THANK YOU! to those of you teaching in Summer 1 and Summer 2 terms, to all of you who will push research forward, submit papers, prepare the next round of grant submissions, serve on review panels, carefully monitor our finances, run Human Resources for the myriad important things, plan teaching, advising and coop, who will keep our College moving so well. Over the summer, we will complete our Annual College of Science Report, and begin to consider COS Strategic Planning for the next academic year.

Our commitment to fight racial injustice does not stop for the summer. This week we remembered Mr. George Floyd, an African American man murdered by police in Minneapolis. Dr. Karl Reid, Senior Vice Provost and Chief Inclusion Officer led a quiet remembrance. We stood silently for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, the length of time police restrained Mr. Floyd. Within the deep sadness, I thought how crucial is our College commitment to a culture of respect and action towards equity, against system racism, towards valuing each person, and to ensuring that our College demographics reflect the breadth of society. Our work continues ceaselessly.

Finally, through the pandemic we tried hard to be a kind, calm and creative Northeastern College of Science Community. It will be good to carry that vision forward. Until September, this is our last Weekly, but please look for the COS Monthly Update in June, July and August. Have a wonderful summer.


Deep Breath. Credit: University Distinguished Professor Dagmar Sternad


dean signature

Hazel Sive PhD
Dean, College of Science
Northeastern University
Pronouns: she/her