Two Years Later

In our break room on the 6th floor of HBC there are a couple of cubbyholes where things are stored – they contain boxes, a small desk, and more boxes. While waiting for my coffee to brew this afternoon, I noticed this on the wall of one of those cubbyholes. I’ve glanced at it dozens of times in recent months, but today I really looked at it.

Look closely – what does that calendar say? Yes, it says March 2020; it’s been frozen in time on that wall since Spring Break 2020. And look at the Escher print on the wall next to it, with its interesting commentary on perspective. (Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935 lithograph, M.C. Escher)

How are you feeling after two years of COVID-19? How are you feeling after two years of reinvention, crisis management, mask-wearing, pivoting and pivoting again, compressed deadlines, “you’re on mute”, and calls for grace, forgiveness, patience, and fortitude? How are you feeling after two years of our reality distorted by a pandemic, after two years of COVID pummeling your perspective? Has your perspective permanently changed? Mine certainly has.

I read articles in Chronicle of Higher Ed or Inside Higher Ed that describe both students and faculty as feeling disconnected, or that highlight the need for greater mental health support, or that examine the academic “rigor wars” after two years of extended deadlines and second chances for students, or that highlight our enrollment challenges. So much has changed for higher education in the last two years, and some of those changes will be permanent.

What hasn’t changed is our crucial mission to be the gateway for our students to a better or different life. We help change the trajectories of the lives of our students and their families because our doors are open and we invite them in and we help them achieve their goals. Whether they are seeking a second career, transfer to a four-year institution, help with their English language skills, a longed-for career path, or something else, we still make the difference in Central Texas.

While perspectives have changed, and the way we move through the world after two years of a pandemic has altered, let’s find ways to celebrate our reinventions, and our pivots, and our ongoing need for grace and patience and forgiveness. Let’s celebrate getting where we are today, and let’s look forward to where we’re going. Here’s to new, altered, revised or revived perspectives!

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