March 26, 2020 - Tritons Together: A Message to the UMSL Community

Dear UMSL Community,

I write to you today not with instructions or operational notes, but with a message of encouragement and solidarity as we continue to navigate the coronavirus and its profound effect on our daily lives. My sincere wish is that in reading this message you find some comfort, solace and reassurance during these incredibly challenging times.

First, to our entire UMSL family of invaluable students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, let me say that we are all in this together. At times, it admittedly feels surreal. Especially as the extent of its reach is yet unknown and information is ever evolving. As each day unfolds, we see more and more examples of how the impact of this pandemic is felt across the globe and, unfortunately, UMSL is no exception. All of this is a lot to take in, I know.

I recognize, too, that each of our individual circumstances differ depending on the details of our lives. Scott and I have a full house. Our two daughters are home with us — one pausing her freshman year of college, the other practicing self-isolation after returning from her Fulbright Scholarship in Taiwan just days ago. Our two boys are caring for their own families in Ohio and Oregon. They are in our thoughts constantly. For so many individuals and families this experience is frightening, confusing, certainly inconvenient. For others still, it is downright devastating. I feel for each and every one of you no matter where you are on this continuum.

Nevertheless, here is what I know. We will get through this. We will do it together. Across whatever time and distance is necessary for the continued safety of us all.

I know this because I’ve seen the very best of who we are and what we have to offer come to life in full force these past few weeks. As you know, I often refer back to words in our strategic plan that I believe in wholeheartedly — UMSL will be a beacon of hope and a force for good. Never have these words and their truth been more apparent to me than in recent days.

From the extraordinary efforts of our Center for Teaching and Learning to shift all of our in-person courses to remote instruction in a matter of days to the UMSL Retirees Association’s immediate offer to volunteer their time and skills in any way needed in the days ahead. From the dedication of our students who remain committed to their studies despite changing living arrangements, changing modes of instruction and so much more to the dedication of our faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond to find new and innovative ways to support those same students. From the essential community services UMSL provides, like Children’s Advocacy Services and the Center for Behavioral Health whose vital work can’t stop even in a pandemic, to our police, facilities, information technology, postal services, health, counseling and residential life staff whose pared down teams must still be present on our campus. Please know that I see you. I support you. I am in awe of you. Most importantly, I thank you. Each of your actions exemplifies something that can give us all great comfort during this time:

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.

History shows us this is true. COVID-19 may be novel, but suffering, strife and challenge unfortunately are not. And yet throughout the span of time, humanity is still here. Through war, famine, poverty, prejudice and other untold and unspeakable tragedies, we are here. We rise up, come together, continue on.

As we continue on at UMSL, I want to remind and encourage you to please be kind to yourselves and to each other. Take good care. Follow the social distancing measures that serve to keep not only ourselves but our families, our communities and our healthcare systems safe and intact. Reach out when you need to. Use technology, creativity and your own unique gifts to lift each other up in ways that cut across distance. I know you can do this. I know we all can do this. I’ve already seen it.

Finally, thank you for showing me what I believe during this time to be the absolute truth — apart does not equal alone. I hope you’ll remember this in the days and weeks to come. We are all in this together. May we stay well, stay connected and stay ever hopeful.

As always — gratefully forward,

Kristin Sobolik
Interim Chancellor and Provost