Finals week greetings and happy holidays!

Bill Maurer
Tuesday December 14 14:47:22 PDT 2020

    Dear social sciences faculty, grad students, lecturers, researchers, and

    As we come to the end of a challenging year, I wanted to thank all of
    you for your efforts since we went into "remote" mode back in March, and
    to pause to celebrate our accomplishments before we get our grades in
    and then all take a well deserved break.

    Remember back to Spring Break? It seems like years ago, but we came
    together as a community to take a fully in-person instruction model -
    one that services the largest number of students on campus of any other
    school - remote. And we did it in a matter of days... during finals...
    without a prior playbook to serve as our guide. And we not only
    survived, we found so many new, engaging ways to reach our students and
    support them at a time when we ourselves were also trying to figure out
    how to exist in a completely new, remote normal. Our staff got
    themselves set up for telecommuting for what we'd initially thought
    might only be a few weeks. But we kept the ship humming, albeit in a
    distributed and dispersed fashion.

    Since March, despite a necessary research slowdown, faculty and grad
    students have been ramping up, slowly but steadily. What's really
    remarkable is that in spite of everything - and to meet the challenges
    of the pandemic - we brought in $4.3M of new grant money to support
    research on Covid-related topics and other research projects, like food
    supply chain disruptions and innovations due to coronavirus closures,
    the role population density plays in understanding and tracking the
    spread of Covid-19, communication channels that may help local leaders
    better distribute emergency messaging in future crises, the partisan
    divide on health behaviors that can help policymakers target more
    effective messaging, and how robots may help people cope in times of
    crises. In a year marked as the worst wildfire season in California
    history, our social scientists are looking to new sources for mitigation
    techniques. In a year where political polarization seemed to reach a new
    peak, our social scientists have focused work on how to understand it,
    as well as how to understand and challenge the spread of misinformation.
    And in a year where countless events have highlighted racial injustices
    that have been inflicted on Black communities and communities of color
    for centuries, our social scientists together launched critical
    programming, structural changes, new outreach activities and funding
    opportunities to advance racial equity issues within our school and
    campus wide.

    And we reorganized the staff, embarked on a school-wide cross-training
    program so staff can be ready to pick up new tasks and learn functional
    areas to help support our (too-lean) operation. We celebrated
    retirements; we also honored those we've lost; we've come together in so
    many ways we could never have imagined back when it seemed our
    interactions through computer screens might divest us of our sense of
    spirit, our community.

    In all that we've been through, and with all we have yet to do in 2021
    and beyond, I am so incredibly thankful for you all - faculty,
    researchers, students and staff - for being such an incredible community
    on which to rely and help us push through this trying time. There's hope
    on the other side. Let's get there.

    With my sincerest wishes for safety, wellness and happiness in the new year,