To the university community,

As we conclude the fall semester and approach winter break, I want to express my deep gratitude to each of you. 2020 will be remembered for challenges the likes of which have not been seen for generations. The year will also be remembered for the way we met those challenges. We developed thoughtful and pragmatic plans, adapted to changing circumstances, and safely served the needs of the community while maintaining a focus on our mission.

Our collaboration with community partners across Virginia has been invaluable, including the Town of Blacksburg, the New River Valley Public Health Task Force, and the Virginia Department of Health. And while we will continue to face challenges from COVID-19 in the coming months, we have established a framework and demonstrated the resilience necessary to succeed.

You’ve done outstanding work in Blacksburg, Roanoke, the greater D.C. region, and Virginia Tech locations throughout the commonwealth. I am thankful for the faculty members who created new learning environments; the researchers who kept projects underway and provided research opportunities for our students; the students (and their families) who adapted to the changes; the IT employees who kept our networks online; our safety and security staff, including VTPD and VT Rescue; and our essential workers who kept our classrooms, labs, residence halls, and recreational facilities open so that our students could enjoy a residential living and learning experience.

I’m also grateful to those of you – students, faculty, and staff - who stayed engaged with the university remotely despite extraordinary challenges in caregiving, home schooling, and the occasional internet outage.

I’m proud of all the Hokies who stepped up to make a difference: Carla Finkielstein and the COVID-19 Lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC; Linsey Marr and her work on airborne virus transmission; our student COVID Crushers who worked to distribute information and personal protective equipment to the community, and many, many more. Your resilience, determination, and commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) exemplifies true Hokie Spirit.

I hope your winter break includes rest, relaxation, and opportunities to safely connect with family and friends. I look forward to seeing you in the spring and invite you to join me on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. for a virtual State of the University Address, as we explore the promise and opportunities of 2021 and beyond.

Be Committed. Be Well.

Tim Sands,

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