As we come to the end of another long and difficult year, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge the disappointment and frustration that many of us, myself included, feel at this newest COVID surge. Twice now, in the summer of 2020 and in the early months of this past semester, we have had a brief taste of what a more normal, less fraught life together would feel like, and each time witnessed it recede in the face of a COVID surge. And so it may be tempting at this crossroads to surrender to a creeping sense of near despair.
In this specific moment, I want to urge you towards a reflection of what we've accomplished together, this year and over the course of the pandemic. Faculty and staff have labored to take care of our students and to make sure that the work of our college, more necessary now than ever, continues. You've seen the figures: the best value college in America according to the Wall Street Journal; tops in producing social mobility; climbing the rankings as CUNY's only national, research-intensive campus. When I read those accolades, the assessments that others make of our work, I think of each of you, dedicated to creating a place and culture that moves our society towards justice by providing a path forward for our students.
I think of you students, many of whom must draw on reserves of courage and determination to simply persist in the pursuit of a degree, of a better life: how hard you work, how much more difficult that work is under pandemic conditions, and how you've refused to allow your futures to be derailed by the headwinds of the day.
I see the contributions of our entire campus community, reflected in our big victories and our workaday accomplishments. I see an assembly of people who recognize their place in a grand design of an institution that matters deeply to our city and to the world.
I don't for a moment discount the difficulties we have faced, together on this campus and in our home and community lives. I've had countless conversations with one or another of you, and you've helped me more fully appreciate the weight this pandemic has placed on you, how difficult it has been to assuage personal fears, to satisfy the urge to protect loved ones, to withstand the grind of a pandemic we once thought would be long over by now. And so I am deeply respectful and grateful at how we've held fast to our animating values.
We will be remembered, in the end, for how we manage the big obstacles in our lives. Some of those are personal and individual and some come to whole generations on the winds of great external challenges. Today we share the burden of shepherding a vision through deeply perilous terrain, and I have been proud to work alongside you, to be part of a community that refuses to concede the important ground of our mission.
I hope that as you assess the year that's just passed and prepare for 2022, you recognize these accomplishments. I never for a moment discount your work, your resilience, and your commitment to our tradition and purpose. I hope we may all look forward to a safer and more normal 2022, and I wish the very best for you in the months to come. I hope for you a joyful and blessed new year. But I also want you to be proud of the year we've spent alongside one another, and to know that I'm grateful and full of admiration for your character and conduct.
With my best wishes for a Happy New Year,