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Welcoming the new academic year with shared purpose

DEPARTMENT(S): 
August 16, 2022

This message was sent to WPI employees.

The energy is changing on campus. While WPI is a full-year, 24/7 operation, and these past few months have included teaching, research, conferences, programs for high school and younger students, the inaugural First-Year Welcome Experience, pre-orientation programs, significant work on our campus facilities, and other important activities, there’s a different kind of buzz when a new academic year is within sight. 

In preparation for the year ahead, a lot of effort has gone into strengthening student support and engagement as we make well-being for all a top priority. If you haven’t already, I invite you to read the note sent by our health and well-being leaders last week and today’s note from Interim Provost Art Heinricher with more information for faculty on the best ways to support students.

Let me echo their messages even as I admit to you that I have not always personally recognized that rest and reflection are as critical to accomplishment as any other part of the process. While I’m fortunate to find great joy in my work, I have learned from experience that making time to care for ourselves and each other is what makes us stronger, and ultimately, more satisfied with our work and life. I’m excited about the academic year ahead, and I’m incredibly grateful that each of you brings your wholehearted support of our students and each other. 

As we look ahead to our community returning, please note:

• September 7 is our A-term Town Hall. We’ll have in-person and virtual ways to attend as we review our shared goals and successes, including progress on Lead With Purpose, and celebrate advances such as the inaugural staff council. If you are able, come early to the Odeum to connect with colleagues over coffee.

• September 23 is our first Wellness Day of the academic year. Details will come later this week but here’s what is set in stone: no classes, no assignments due, no non-critical lab work, and no meetings scheduled. Use this day to check in and double down on our efforts to support and care for our undergraduate and graduate students and each other.

 Kognito, an interactive mental health and suicide prevention simulation will soon be available to our whole community. All employees and students will be asked to complete this program. More information will be forthcoming.

• If you are returning to campus after a long stretch, or whenever you travel—and certainly if you feel unwell—please test for COVID-19.  Use this resource page for information on testing and steps to take if you test positive. The university is carefully tracking COVID, and we’re also convening a working group about monkeypox to be prepared as needed. 

In closing, I encourage you to take advantage of and to promote a new and helpful resources for students by students that I think is actually useful for all of us: Gompei’s Guide to WPI.

Thank you for all that you do in support of WPI and our shared purpose.

Cheers, 

Wole