We have arrived at the end of week two of fall semester 2020. Remember these days, the substance for a lifetime of reflection and reminiscence. Even as we practice our capacity for patience and resilience—the two most common responses in our community polls at last week’s Convocation and the Welcome Back Assembly—I understand how challenging it remains to juggle circumstances with fortitude and flexibility. Thank you.
Let me extend particular welcome to our newest members of the TCNJ community as I formally welcome back our stalwart students, staff and faculty, and friends of the college. Together we embrace the rarity of conditions and thus the creative possibilities of the physically distanced start to the academic year.
And what a monumental year it is. As I set forth in the Welcome Back Assembly, we are committed to progress and outcomes on three goals: managing and leveraging the disruptions of COVID-19, finalizing and activating our long-term strategy, and becoming an antiracist institution. These commitments are at once central to and elaborations of our college mission to deliver “personalized, collaborative, and rigorous” education at the “highest-level within and beyond the classroom.”
When asked at the Welcome Back Assembly how much change you believe is needed for TCNJ to respond to dynamics affecting the college, far more of you said “high” or “medium” than said “low.” We will need to unpack those responses—what kind of change?—but the group sentiment offers a strong foundation for the conversations and actions to come this year. Anchoring around our values, mission, and what is best about TCNJ while making the needed and desired changes is the “return to better” I spoke of. Thank you for engaging this work to ensure that we have a full range of perspectives and can collaboratively chart our future.
From the time I can remember, September has meant new beginnings. Welcome to the new month in the new academic year, and welcome to all at TCNJ.
With warm regards and anticipation,
Kathryn A. Foster