As we welcome our MGA Knights back on campus for Fall 2020, we’re aware of the myriad changes that have been made to the way we do things, due to the challenges and dangers presented by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Our classrooms no longer look as they did before, our smiles are hidden behind masks and face coverings, and instead of the embraces and handshakes we commonly see on our return to the academic year, we find an obligatory six-foot gap between one another. These sacrifices, and more, are the price we pay for keeping one another safe and healthy in the face of this disease.

These differences, though, bring into even greater highlight the things that have remained the same here at MGA – our dedication to our students, our observance of our core principles, and our goal of creating lifelong learners and talented professionals. Despite the adjustments we have made and will continue to make throughout another unorthodox semester, we will continue to work tirelessly to see our students succeed.

Today, we embark on yet another year of higher education. Our newest Knights are joining us, most stepping into a college classroom – or logging into a college course online – for the first time. To them, and to our returning students, I say “Welcome!” While Fall 2020 may go down into the history books as yet another term that follows slightly different rules than the norm, that doesn’t at all take away from the pride and joy we feel in seeing you join us for the next few months. We’ve glad you’ve chosen to begin – or continue – your education with us, and we remain dedicated to working with you to make the coming semester a successful one.

I was recently asked to take part in a social media celebration of “National Book Lovers’ Day,” and offered up some words regarding one of my favorite books, Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” That novel rather famously opens with the line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and continues on for an entire paragraph of contrasts, setting the stage for a story set against the dramatic differences between the London and the Paris of the time. The story is one of unrest and violence, but it is also one of the love and the humanity that can light the darkest of days. I find the study in contrasts to be hopeful in today’s climate – one of triumph in spite of setback, victory in enormous trials.

Starting our Fall 2020 term amid the fear and uncertainty thrust upon us by COVID-19, I want to encourage all of you to keep that love and humanity in the fore of your minds in the weeks and months to come. If we dedicate ourselves to finding the “best of times” in the middle of the “worst of times,” if we focus on taking care of ourselves and looking out for others, and if we – above all – work together, we can find the greatness that lives in all of us.

That was powerfully brought home to me this past week when I met virtually with the Faculty Senate and with the Staff Council. It is clear that we share concerns, but more powerfully that we can work together to help each other and advance our work as a University. Our strength lies in that working together, and I am proud of our faculty and staff as we begin our work once again in person.

Welcome to Fall Semester 2020!