Dear SEAS Students, Staff, and Faculty,
I’m writing to you all at the end of another very long and highly dynamic week. As the impact of COVID-19 grows, we as a society, and as an academic community, are continuing to make the necessary adjustments to promote health and wellbeing, while pursuing our important missions. The new travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders will be critical to “flattening the curve” and saving lives in the coming weeks and months, while our online teaching and remote research create engineering leaders and critical knowledge for the future. This is all requiring adaptability, patience, and teamwork, and I continue to be in awe of how well our community is responding.
In addition to our future-focused education and research mission, SEAS is actively engaging in today’s fight against COVID-19 in a variety of ways. For example, students, staff, and faculty have delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) from our laboratories to the GW Health System, and they have even begun to 3-D print new PPE to help protect our clinical colleagues on the front lines of this crisis. Others in SEAS are developing screening systems for use at hospital entrances, innovating plasma brushes to clean and reuse PPE, and creating websites and data analysis tools to help model and manage the pandemic. These are just a few examples; many other efforts are underway and being led by members of our SEAS community. I want to recognize and celebrate everyone’s contributions, so please email me with any information about what you or your SEAS colleagues are doing in the fight against COVID-19.
I also want to take a moment to recognize the grief and anxiety many of you may be feeling, as more and more people are experiencing personal loss in this pandemic. Indeed, I spoke with a SEAS alumnus earlier today whose father passed away yesterday from COVID-19. Millions more people – myself included – are experiencing great anxiety and fear for ourselves and our loved ones and for our previous "normal" way of life. So much has changed, and so rapidly, in the span of a few short weeks. It is important to recognize and honor these difficult feelings and to share them with others. I have done so myself with some of you, and you have lifted me up with your support and encouragement. For that I am extremely grateful.
In the coming days and weeks, I will be sending out other information about adjustments SEAS is making in the pursuit of our mission during this crisis, including details about our virtual commencement activities next month and about our online course offerings this summer. It is my goal to be clear and concise in such informational updates, but please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.
But tonight, my message to you is this... Take care of yourselves. Take care of your loved ones. Take care of your communities – including our beloved SEAS community. We can take care by following health guidelines such as social distancing, by asking for support and providing it to others, and by continuing to be resourceful, adaptable, and compassionate. We will continue to experience loss, anxiety, and challenges, but by caring for ourselves and for each other, we will get through this.
Dean - School of Engineering and Applied Science
Professor - Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
The George Washington University