May 12, 2020 - A Message to the UMSL Community

Dear UMSL Community,

As this unprecedented semester comes to a close, I am humbled by the opportunity to express my gratitude and sincere thanks. 

I have been inspired and bolstered by the sheer dedication and strength of our entire UMSL family more times than I can count in recent weeks. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, philanthropic supporters, community partners — if I could thank each one of you personally for the countless hours of hard work, creativity, compassion, problem solving and hopeful perseverance, I would.

As I said Friday — when over 400 members of our community tuned in remotely for our budget and planning meeting — now is a time to extend unparalleled respect and grace both to ourselves and each other. We have accomplished so much collectively and individually. I truly believe there is no department, unit or individual who hasn’t done their part. Such resilience during this time is something remarkable. Something to recognize and take pride in. Although adversity can be painful, it is also an opportunity for growth, innovation and change.

As we move into the future, I know that we will feel the stress, shifting workloads and consequences of necessary changes differently and at different times. I know that some will be impacted more than others. I wish this were not so — that there were not difficult decisions ahead. Nevertheless, I ask — if only briefly — that we not allow what is ahead to overshadow what has transpired. I ask that we find the time to take in and honor this moment as we’re in it. Because, though it may feel out of place, celebration of progress and hope is perhaps more important in these turbulent times than ever before. So, please pause, take a deep breath, feel good about your efforts and accomplishments. Know that our entire UMSL family has much to be proud of. And know that each of you have my heartfelt thanks and admiration.

This is especially true for our graduating students, to whom I want to say this:

Take heart. Be bold with your pride. Though it is difficult, do not let postponed ceremonies, current challenges and distance extinguish your good feelings and hope. Your future is still bright. It is still yours to shape.  

Above all else, do not let isolation be the thing you carry away with you now. Your time at UMSL has been so much bigger than one semester of abrupt change, uncertainty and resilience. The moments that brought you here and that transpired here are infinite. Celebrate them all. Take in the whole of your journey. Know that a new one is about to begin. And know that even if tough times lie ahead, surprise and delight await you as well.

Gratefully forward,

Kristin Sobolik
University of Missouri–St. Louis