Underworld of Traffic – 10.28.22

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

Driving along route nine this week was a descent into the underworld – blazing red lights amidst dense foggy rain, the pace glacial. Van Halen on WZLX could not make a dent. But along that road there’s a spot where a movie from my mind pops up, that conjured away the fog. It’s a balmy summer afternoon, after my daughter’s impressive trapeze performance at circus camp, and we’re driving home, suddenly very hungry. Rosie’s Bakery is conveniently right there, and we opt for a large box of apricot rugelach, right out of the oven. Back in the car, we eat almost all of them, a beyond perfect bite, that can still brighten a gloomy rush hour.

Even traveling through an underworld of traffic, even without hot rugelach, the ride to Northeastern is unequivocally worth it. Because it’s good to be together. As we incorporate COVID into our ‘regular’ spectrum of illnesses and vaccinations, social events have become more comfortable. We’ve started Staff Coffees, Department Socials will begin Dec 1, and Departments are having in-person events for faculty, staff and students. I often wear a mask, to help stay well for the College, but it’s lovely and productive to see everyone in 4D.

It’s also crucial to be on campus, because we are an in-person University. Our students come to us for an in-person education, for lectures and labs that you give them hands-on. Students come to us for in-person Coop so they can grow into valued professionals, they come to us to be trained in-person as the next generation of scientific professionals, who will play pivotal roles in the United States and across the world. The future physicians, researchers, educators, communicators, biopharma and innovation leaders, and way more, are trained in the College of Science by you, in-person. Our research is in-person: tissue culture, high-tech microscopes, mass spectrometers are a few tools we use to gather important data, in-person. Through the worst of the pandemic, Northeastern University courageously stayed open, recognizing that our signature experiential learning is most valuable in-person. Many of you worked in-person to ensure we were open for business, and my gratitude to you remains enormous.

And because our university is in-person, every College member contributes by being here on campus. Through the pandemic, we developed hybrid work, so that certain staff positions could work remotely up to three days per week. We are pleased to offer this flexibility that was unprecedented a couple of years ago. But your two days on campus are extremely important, I would say the most important in your workweek. On campus is when you meet students and colleagues in-person, when you can help a student most effectively, when you can brainstorm with others most creatively, when you can be focused on your work without the distractions of home. Hybrid will continue to evolve as we explore the most effective use of on-campus time.

Right now, come and get a Halloween treat from the Dean’s Office, attend a talk, stop by someone’s office with an idea. Each College member can be a valuable in-person educator, whether you brilliantly teach courses and labs, or work a front office and assist students who need directions, a friendly hello, or more significant information around wellness resources.  Please visit our webpage and click on ‘Mental Health Resources’ for mental health and wellness information. THANK YOU for being an in-person part of our College Community, with our culture of collaboration and respect. THANK YOU for your important contributions to our pivotal missions of research and education in the Northeastern University College of Science.