March 25, 2021 - A message from Chancellor Sobolik to the UMSL community

Dear University Community,

As spring break quickly approaches, I want to take a moment to thank you for your tremendous efforts thus far this semester—and to offer some encouragement, as well.

I will never grow tired of expressing how in awe I am of the sheer amount of meaningful work, unwavering commitment and gracious service that I observe daily from you – our faculty, staff and students. The continued safety and productivity of our entire UMSL community during these extraordinary times is a success that belongs to each of you. Thank you.

I don’t think it is at all an overstatement to say that this may be the most well-earned and well-deserved spring break our community has ever had. I want to encourage you to enjoy your time away, take time to replenish your spirit and take good care. I hope, too, while you do, that you will continue to prioritize your own and others’ safety, health and well-being just as you do here at UMSL.

As much as we’ve been through already, I believe this is a uniquely trying time in the course of the pandemic, precisely because we’ve come so far. As the weather gets warmer and positive progress is made, it’s only human to be tempted to let our guard down and rush to the finish line we are all so eager to cross. Nevertheless, I ask that you please continue to take precautions by masking, social distancing and taking every other necessary precaution. Not only will this help keep us all as safe as possible, it will ensure we can return to successfully complete the semester we’ve worked so hard to see our way through.

I also want to encourage every one of us to seek out vaccination opportunities as they become available and we become eligible over the coming weeks. The rising number of successful vaccinations is heartening for many reasons, not the least of which it allows us to plan accordingly for a fall semester that will be as close to normal – the new normal – as we can possibly make it. We must all do our continued part to make those plans a reality.

Finally, as challenging as it may be, I hope we are each able to find some peace and comfort during the upcoming break – and always. Peace and comfort, if only momentarily, from the difficulties and outright atrocities that surround us and too easily fill our news and social media feeds these days. I’m speaking specifically of violence, of hatred, of the horrors of racism and other absolutely unacceptable acts of wrongdoing that we, our loved ones, our colleagues, and even total strangers are affected by sometimes daily.

If you are hurting, disheartened, despairing, please know you are not alone. To the Asian American community specifically, given recent events, let me say this again, with all my heart: You are not alone. We are with you. UMSL is with you. You are UMSL. I applaud and echo the support and total condemnation of racist and xenophobic acts that was jointly expressed recently by our Staff Council, Faculty Senate, Student Government Association, Black Faculty and Staff Association and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

I'll leave you with a quote, a bit of advice really, that’s often repeated during difficult and heartbreaking times. The late Fred Rogers credited his mother with telling him to, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are willing to help.” I’m heartened every day that, here at UMSL, we don’t need to look far at all. We know the helpers. We are the helpers. Let's keep going.

Again, I thank you. Have a wonderful break.

Gratefully forward,

Kristin Sobolik

University of Missouri–St. Louis