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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 17, 2020) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto sent the following messages of welcome and gratitude below and in the video above to the the campus community today, as UK's Fall 2020 semester gets underway amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dear Campus Community,
It has been said that “the great use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it.”
In so many ways, that is what we do at the University of Kentucky.
We teach and support students so that they might lead lives of meaning and purpose. We treat and heal patients to renew and extend life. We conduct research, knowing that answers may elude us for decades — or forever — but we maintain the hope that a spark of discovery will lead to an answer.
And, as always, we serve — every community in our Commonwealth and seemingly every corner of the world is touched by our presence, from storefronts in Appalachian towns where cancer screening is conducted, to AIDS interventions in Zambia.
Yet, the circumstances under which we do this work have never been more challenging. An invisible virus that disregards geography can infect any of us, although we know it disproportionately affects communities of need and color. At the same time, another pandemic whose source is hate, and whose reach often spreads like a virus, confronts and challenges us, too.
We are being asked now to do new things in new ways that have never been asked of us. Many in our community are understandably anxious about working on campus while the trajectory of the virus continues spiking upward.
Many more continue to adjust to remote work, meaning that they never feel disconnected from the office when a Zoom call can be arranged on a moment’s notice. Still, so many others — faculty and staff members — are waking up this morning to teach a class, provide support to a unit, clean a building or prepare a meal, worried about arranging child care for a young son or daughter who must start the school year online.
Managing those needs — of work and life, of family and commitments — can be daunting and, at times, overwhelming.
As we begin our fall semester, please know how deeply grateful I am for each of you. Your resilience and grit always inspire me. Your grace and kindness never fail to renew my own sense of hope and purpose.
We are surrounded by state-of-the-art buildings and detailed preparations, deep supplies of personal protective equipment, plexiglass, technology upgrades, newly configured classrooms and signage abounding that tells us to mask up, distance, wash our hands and complete our daily screening.
But our success, our health and our well-being, will be determined by how we come together as a community — today and every day over the next few months. We must protect one another. We must respect each other. And we must do our part. None of us is in this alone. None of us should be afraid of moments of doubt or concern. None of us should ever resist asking for help.
We have resources as an institution that can help — from counseling to child care alternatives and from health care and testing to resources for managing time at home or work.
And we will continue to look for ways to communicate better and more timely information to ensure you have access to what you need when you need it.
I have three questions I ask of myself, and our team, every day: Are we making it as easy as possible to be safe? Are we showing, in ways large and small and in everything we do, that we care? Are we doing what it takes, in everything we do, to help our community be successful between now and Thanksgiving, when we want our students, faculty and staff to have completed an on-campus experience for the fall safe, healthy and well?
Living life in a way that outlasts us is not found only in discovering cures or celebrating unprecedented breakthroughs in labs or operating suites, classrooms or communities. It is demonstrating kindness when we know someone is hurting. It is offering help to those in need. It is doing what we can, with what we have, to ensure everyone who comes here feels accepted.
That is who we are. It is what we must endeavor to do — now, more than ever. Welcome back to your campus, and your community. I am so gratified that you are here and committed to doing your part for our community.
We’ll get through this together.