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Holiday graphic with admin building in snow globe.

A year end message from President Benarroch

December 17, 2020 — 

A message from UM President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Michael Benarroch:

This year, 2020, has demanded that we let go of so many daily practices and cherished traditions that brought meaning and connection to our lives. We feel this loss even more acutely as we prepare for a holiday season like no other. Kim and I are sharing a virtual Hanukkah with our children in Ontario, lighting our candles in separate houses. It’s beautiful in its own way, but it is not the same as being together under one roof. Certainly, the tally of challenges this past year has been inordinate, still, I reflect on the progress and connections we were able to make, and I’m grateful.

What we have achieved together is monumental. Almost instantly we moved classes online. Exams online. Convocations online. Work online. Was it all perfect? No, but, our community stepped up with resilience. Rady Faculty of Health Sciences students found ways to connect ICU patients with family members, and they and our engineers developed ways to 3D-print ventilators and personal protective gear. Nursing students volunteered to work phone lines, making crucial connections with those in need. Asper students teamed up with small businesses to help them pivot. Our social scientists found creative ways to examine how the virus is affecting daily life for all facets of society, particularly the most vulnerable, and these are but just a few examples of the contributions made by our community. Our donors supported a fund to help students purchase computers for remote learning. And our alumni have shone brilliantly on the front lines of health and social services, lead by Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin [BSc/96, MD/00, JD/09, MPH/11] and Lanette Saragusa [BN/95, MN/08] chief nursing officer for Shared Health.

Let’s also reflect on the herculean feat of researchers from around the globe—including here on our campuses—who continue to study every aspect of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus and have shared their insights in the effort to develop vaccines in record time. We applaud the tremendous work of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences to support Shared Health in launching Manitoba’s first COVID-19 immunization clinic. And as the vaccine rollout continues, we know that it has all been worth it.

Yes, this year has brought with it a tectonic disruption. But here we are, overcoming challenges by thinking in new ways, collaborating, sharing, and offering hope. As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we can be confident that we will come through this pandemic stronger than ever.

I am grateful when I consider what’s been happening on a more micro level—my meetings with students, with deans, with faculty councils. Despite all the challenges of this past year, pandemic related and otherwise, our university community has truly welcomed me and demonstrated a commitment to meaningful, honest engagement that will support our work together going forward. I am committed to this work, and I sincerely look forward to when it can safely be done face-to-face on our campuses.

Despite the limitations and challenges, we deserve to find joy and relax this season—to celebrate all the hope and good in our world. As our University holiday card reminds us, this year we witnessed the power of resilience, connection and compassion. Let’s remain grateful for the warmth of a community that looks out for one another, lifts one another up and celebrates each other.

Best wishes for good health and peace this season, and for renewed hope in the New Year.


One comment on “A year end message from President Benarroch

  1. Thomas Damilare

    It’s really been a year that’s no one expected. Let’s hope the coming year brings smile to all Manitoba students, professors and alumni.

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