3/22/2020 Email Update
To the Dartmouth community,
With all that's going on around us, I would like to take a moment to address our transition to working at home and to virtual learning.
I recognize that this shift, and the directives we are receiving from public officials to stay at home and limit contact with others, can lead to very real feelings of loneliness and isolation.
On Friday, I got together with my President's Office team via Zoom. It was my first chance to gather with them since we all began working from home earlier in the week. After just a week, it was such a joy for me to see the faces and hear the voices of the people who have become so much a part of my daily life. In that moment, I realized how isolated I had been feeling. And I expect that many of you are feeling that way too.
Please take time to think about how you can help your co-workers and friends who might be feeling isolated and check in with them regularly through whatever channels you have available to you—whether it's by phone, e-mail, text, Zoom, or other digital technologies. The same goes for you, if you're feeling isolated. Human connection is critical for all of us, and we'll all fare better if we are there for one another.
This is a challenging time for all of us, and we are doing our best to adapt to this new reality. Every one of us is faced with learning to do familiar tasks in entirely new ways: from teaching and learning, to the work we do for Dartmouth, to how we care for our families and even shop for groceries. It takes mental and psychological energy simply to adjust to this new way of living.
Fortunately, we are starting from a position of strength.
Faculty, you are among the best educators in the world. The wisdom that you will put into course content, the insight you'll include in your lectures as leaders in your fields, the skill you will bring to constructing assignments and group projects, the care you will offer students as they consult with you—all of these things will add to the power of the virtual learning experiences you will offer.
Students, you are exceptional learners who are already adept with the technology you'll be relying on. I know you will put those skills to good work and sharpen and enhance them over the next term.
And to staff members, your dedication and creativity will be very much on display—as it has been already—as you develop innovative methods to work in the weeks and months ahead.
Despite our skill, goodwill, and best intentions, there will inevitably be moments of frustration, and times when things aren't going exactly as you'd like. In those moments, it is my sincere hope that you will empathize before you criticize. Each of us is juggling a different set of challenges. Many of you working from home are caring for aging parents or educating children. Some of you may be caring for younger siblings or dealing with the added stress of challenging economic circumstances in your families.
I know that all of us—students, faculty, and staff—will strive to stay as positive and productive as possible, and to deliver the very best work we can, given the circumstances. So, let's not be too hard on ourselves or on one another. Let's rise to this challenge together, with the creativity, compassion, and resilience that is now, and always has been, at the heart of our Dartmouth community.
Philip J. Hanlon '77