Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,
Across the country, we are shocked by the Miami building collapse, and pray for the safety of those affected, and for your family and friends there. We send warm wishes for the safety of your family and friends in countries still so burdened by COVID-19.
In better news, now in official Summer, my bird feeder is in demand from first to last light. Parent birds bring their babies for a snack, and a young bunny comes to look for dropped seeds. The large shallow bowls I’ve filled with water are in constant use for a drink or a splash. Seeds are up and almost flowering, the Borage miraculously returned. Last year I gave up trying to grow a lawn, letting the moss and small plants thrive, and the results are soft, peaceful, and a great environment for insects. But perhaps the best part of summer is pulling on a trusty pair of flipflops, my unconstrained toes enjoying seasonal freedom!
It’s hard to traverse this summer without comparing to the previous one. Last year there were two things on our minds: the pandemic and the increased, abhorrent, yet-again racial violence across our country. This summer, in the United States and especially in New England, COVID-19 has waned and that’s a big relief. But President Biden has ordered an inquiry into the origins of the Sars-CoV-2 virus that continues to devastate parts of the world. It is an unproven but sobering possibility that the virus arose from dangerous science, funded multi-nationally, and in accord with certain global virology research strategies. Regardless of whether viral origin is ever clear, these considerations emphasize the importance of educating our Northeastern trainees to do ‘good’ science. Many scientific fields have good/bad manifestations: nuclear energy/nuclear weapons; the internet/cyberattacks, and in life sciences: antidotes/biological toxins; vaccines/lab-made pathogens. In the College of Science, we must promote the Good Power of Science, considering the impact of our discoveries and contributing ethical, useful research.
This summer, racial violence and systemic racism continue, although more people seem committed to addressing inequities, and Mr. George Floyd’s murderer has been sentenced to decades in prison. In our College, we are continuing to build a landscape of respect and belonging, with action towards equity. We stand strong against racism, and towards policies of justice in the College of Science and at Northeastern University.
And now, this Summer, we will completely re-open the College. Fully remote work is over! We are designating MONDAY AUGUST 16 as full re-opening for the College of Science. At this time, you are expected to be back on campus five days per week. For many staff, we are pleased to offer hybrid work options, that promote productivity, flexibility and optimal use of COS space, in accord with Northeastern University guidelines. If you are designated for hybrid work, your weekly schedule of some on campus and some remote days may already have been laid out. There is additional information following this letter.
Between now and August 16, you should be ramping up to your next semester’s work cadence. Come to work in person! It can be brutal at first – you have to remember to pack your lunch, get dinner organized the day before, take the T or deal with Boston traffic. But speaking from experience, it gets easier as the days go by, and in person meetings truly are preferable than Teams. Keep your mask handy for travel, crowded places or as you prefer for health and comfort. If you are not vaccinated, now is the time! Our goal is to get close to 100% of COS personnel protected. Northeastern students are required to be vaccinated by the Fall.
As you ramp up, it will help to remember the comfortable aspects of being a COS member. Being kind, calm and creative; being one community where each person’s contribution is respected and valued, one community working together, where everyone belongs, and from where we contribute the highest quality research, education and innovation. Thank you for your outstanding work, thank you for your Summer Ramp Up!
Hazel Sive PhD
Dean, College of Science