Resilience, revival, and resurgence

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, April 8, 2020

President, University of TN
In these challenging times, all of us at the University of Tennessee are determined to keep what is most important first in every action and every decision: the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff – nothing will have a higher priority. At the same time, we are working tirelessly to find new and innovative ways to continue our mission of educating, discovering, and serving our state.
We have been resilient, and I could not be more proud of our team. Students are taking classes remotely, faculty have adjusted their instruction to a new virtual world while ensuring students complete courses and graduate on time. They are finding ways to overcome every obstacle. Staff are finding ways to do their work in new ways too, and discovering that work is not a place you go to. Work is a verb and it can be done anywhere, and oftentimes it can be done even more effectively and efficiently.
In spite of the seemingly endless series of obstacles thrown our way, we are making lemonade! That’s what they say to do when it’s raining lemons, and that is precisely what we are doing. We have even created a portal where everyone is recording their “lemonade,” or new, innovative solutions they are discovering as a result of these disruptions. Someone once said never let a good crisis go to waste, and we aren’t. We are discovering transformational ways to educate students and to do our work. We will stay healthy and safe, while at the same time making UT better and stronger than ever.
There will be a revival. It is not a question of if, just a question of when. We will bring back our students, faculty and staff to our campuses, but it will not be the same. At least three things will be different. We will have transformed how we accomplish our mission. We will be more prepared for future catastrophic events. And we will have a stronger bond with an ever-lasting greater appreciation for each other, for our mission and for our University.
Finally, there will be a resurgence. We won’t go back to how we were. Instead, we will surge ahead in a profoundly better way. This crisis will not derail the greatest decade, but instead it will define it. How we are responding and overcoming is a catalytic moment in time. How we all rise to the challenge will be how we will be defined forever. I have never been more inspired by the heroism and dedication of all our students, faculty and staff, and, because of them, this will still be the greatest decade in the history of the University of Tennessee!

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