Holiday Greetings and Looking Ahead to 2021
January 4, 2021
Jackson School Community,
While the start of a new semester is a time of renewal, excitement and hope for all the semester might bring, the end of a semester usually brings an assessment of accomplishments, a long exhale, and not a little fatigue. I can’t give enough kudos to the amazing drive, innovation and agility you have all shown in adapting to the prolonged constraints of the pandemic to create a different, yet still very successful, educational community and research environment.
Our students have shown grit and grace throughout this challenge, finding new ways to connect with each other and to approach their course work and research. Our staff members have been resolute and very reliable. For all of us, 2021 cannot come soon enough! But the lessons we have learned won’t be wasted. The pandemic has shown us the possibilities — and limitations — of virtual learning and the value of stepping back from our established routines to rethink how we can accomplish things.
These lessons will influence and be brought into our academic and research practices even when the pandemic is under control. So, my end of semester assessment is: Way to go. You (all, y’all) made it. The best thing we can all do now is to take the holiday time to rest, recover and refresh ourselves.
If you’re looking for some fun reading over the holiday, peruse the Jackson School Newsletter and learn about the research and accomplishments of Jackson School scientists, students and staff. The discoveries and accolades keep coming! I especially want to recognize Sharon Mosher for receiving the 2020 Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal, Kerry Cook for being awarded the inaugural Simpson Tropical Meteorology Research Award from the American Meteorological Society, and our science writer, Monica Kortsha, for winning the annual UT University Excellence in Communications writing award!
Finally, I extend my gratitude to all of you who have dedicated so much energy to improving our community’s understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. This fall’s DeFord Lecture Series was a fantastic display of the talents of researchers from underrepresented groups. GSEC, GLOW, GEN and GeoLatinas were among the groups who kept the dialogue alive through multiple educational and social events. And my personal favorite: the Listening to Each Other (LEO) talks that introduced us to the personal histories of members of our community, giving us a glimpse of what makes our colleagues unique.
Speaking of awards, the timeline for the Jackson School’s annual awards will be a little later than usual this year. Selecting award winners will be difficult given all the stellar work I have witnessed! But, now more than ever, it is important to recognize those who go above and beyond for the school. Look for the nomination email in early January; the awards will be announced in February.
In the meantime, rest up, enjoy the holidays and let’s all look forward to a great 2021! The arrival of the vaccines brings the light of hope to our horizon! For now, please continue to stay disciplined and vigilant about your health until the country is broadly and effectively vaccinated.
With best wishes to all,
Claudia Mora, Dean