A year of change: 2021 end of year message
Well, 2021, you are almost done! And as we move through December, it is fair to say we REALLY earned our Holiday Break this year – and then some!
It has been a year like no other, full of so many amazing accomplishments here at McMaster. I have been inspired by all of you and have overflowing gratitude for the silver linings and unending resilience everyone has shown when things got tough. It most definitely was not an easy year, with a pandemic in full swing from end to end, and the growing impact of climate change happening in the world around us, and even the ‘powerful people’ felt it. While the world outside of McMaster kept everyone on their toes, on our McMaster campuses we also witnessed a continuum of COVID related shifts (pivots!) over the year, from full lockdowns to easing restrictions and increasing presence on campus.
With all 2021 entailed, we will no doubt look back on this year with a multitude of mixed feelings and reactions: hope, anxiety, patience, worry, reunion, compassion, frustration, optimism, flexibility, renewal, discovery, all layered in so much CHANGE…while simultaneously feeling like not enough was changing fast enough. Maybe we need to push for an extra dose of ‘hope’ as we enter 2022!
‘Back to Mac’ became a beacon of energy and focus for the campus in early 2020. It continues to evolve as many of our colleagues at the institution continue to thoughtfully map out what a more fulsome presence on campus will look like and I am inspired by the people centred focus across our leadership team. Campus planning (the never-ending planning!) has been enveloped by many 2021 sub-themes that stand out, too: campus outdoor seating and meet ups, all things cyber security, the implementation and continued evolution of MacCheck, COVID testing, vaccination validation and integrated processes, the new McMaster Strategic Plan, ALL online ALL the time (Zoom to Teams) , Microsoft for everyone, virtual celebrations, and of course another year of donuts…and the McMaster IT Strategic Plan which is rolling to the end of its third year (how could I forget)!
Our McMaster teams have shared an openness and commitment to communication and compassion throughout the year, sharing stories and solutions, finding ways to support and care for each other. Thank you. No matter how hard it has been, there have been countless opportunities to recognize the many sacrifices and extra efforts our colleagues have made to maintain McMaster campuses and culture throughout the pandemic.
While we think about what we can expect for Winter 2022, it is important to remember our institutional values and the guiding principles being applied to this critical planning. If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to also take in the Provost’s State of Academy address from last month as we recall and look forward to our McMaster University ‘WHY’: supporting our students, faculty and researchers.
And whether you are now ‘winding down’, or continuing at a suspenseful pace, getting to the holiday break may feel like a stretch to the proverbial finish line. Fear not – it is just ahead! Regardless, we will all need some inspiration so we can reboot at the end of this semester. As my holiday gift to you, please let me pass along a few of the things that have inspired me this year so you may draw on them as ‘just in time’ mood boosters when you need them most:
- Reading is always an inspiring endeavour and although I lost a lot of ground in my reading in 2020, I managed to dig in and get back to consuming books again in 2021. Here is my amalgamated book list from both years for you to peruse – enjoy!
- I have tried in my own way to highlight some of our hard working leaders and colleagues through our Virtual Hallway Chats, capturing some candid moments with our President David Farrar, our recently retired Vice President Admin Roger Couldrey, and many of our favourite colleagues. These individuals continuously inspire me through their leadership and dedication to our institution. Listener tip: speed up the playback and enjoy the fast talking.
- Instagram is the social media I choose to stay in touch with family the most – and of course over time I have found other people to follow. One of myfaves is Faith Broussard Cade – who goes by the handle of Fleurdelisspeaks. She posts little daily affirmations that just ALWAYS seem to be what I need at the time. You can learn more about her at https://www.fleurdelisspeaks.com/ or check her out on IG!
- Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon is one of the most inspiring people on Twitter and has brought messages of joy (and Bhangra dancing) to thousands over the last few years. If you haven’t heard of him, seen him dance, or tried dancing along… well that should be a holiday goal this year!
And finally, I offer you that extra dose of hope I mentioned earlier, and I hope that as we finish 2021 and enter into 2022, we continue to spark inspiration for each other. As we enter into the final year of our McMaster IT Strategic Plan, we can collaborate to inspire others at McMaster University with the big and small achievements we will accomplish together.
Inspiration can and does turn up in our day to day. Sometimes we don’t have to seek it, we only have to see it. So, over this holiday break, I encourage you to relax, recharge, and see the simple joys in all the corners of your life… and get inspired.
Happy Holiday and Thank You for your many contributions this year!