The motto of the University of California is “fiat lux” — let there be light. Every year around this time, UC Merced has marked the season by lighting the Beginnings sculpture in the Carol Tomlinson-Keasey Quad, brightening the campus and calling attention to our proud history and traditions.
This year, there was much discussion about whether to light Beginnings — with so few people on campus, particularly after dark, and during a time when we are all working hard to contain costs. But traditions are important, and with all that this pandemic year has stolen from us, we worked hard to find a way not to let this tradition be taken from us as well. So Fran Telechea, executive director of planning, design and construction management reached out to Webcor, our Merced 2020 Project construction partner, to sponsor and install the lights, and I am very happy to report Beginnings is a beacon to the world again this year.
As I was admiring this inspirational sight on campus last week — marking my first winter at UC Merced — I met student Jennifer Eggleston from Hayward, who told me how happy she was that she was able to see Beginnings lit up for the fourth year in a row. While we lamented that we cannot gather as a community around Beginnings for cookies and hot chocolate and camaraderie, we know that for those working and living and conducting research, and those able to make the drive past UC Merced, campus is glowing yet again.
We have had a challenging 2020, individually and as a community. But like Beginnings, we have the strength to shine in the darkness — to shed light on those around us, to bring hope and cheer, to signal the promise of a brighter day. We are reminded that 2021 will be a new start, and we know our strength and hope will carry us through these days and into the new year.
Wishing you a brighter new year,
Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.