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A New Year of Hope

January 19, 2021
Re: A New Year of Hope
To: All campus
Jan. 19, 2021
Dear Campus Colleagues,
Welcome to 2021, to the start of the spring semester, and to a new season of hope.
We have lived through and adapted to troubling times in 2020 — personal, national and global — and learned yet again how important it is to draw strength and support from one another. UC Merced welcomed its largest student population in history and has excelled in its mission of teaching, research and public service precisely because this community has been strong and united.
But the arrival of this new year is more than a symbolic fresh start. Help and hope are on the way. The COVID-19 vaccine is being administered — soon, we anticipate, through our own campus — which promises to restore what we remember as normalcy in our lives. We have again set records for undergraduate and graduate applications to UC Merced — young people eager to further their educational journeys with us, who have maintained that light of hope even through our nation’s dark times. And the University of California has set a stake in the ground of returning to primarily in-person instruction this fall.
This is a challenge we embrace.
Make no mistake, though: It is a challenge. We must plan — together — how to keep our community’s wellbeing foremost in our minds and our operations before we can return to the joys of daily communal interactions. Everyone must be engaged in this great work before the first day of the fall 2021 semester. We must do so with purpose and with discipline, but also with hope.
This promise of hope would not be complete without noting that we have just marked a holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, who 58 years ago led a peaceful march for justice and human dignity in Washington. In his now-famous address, he proclaimed that “in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream.”
We can look back on the difficulties and frustrations of 2020 and remind ourselves that others have faced more troubling times and still maintained both the hope in a better future and the vigor to do what is necessary. We hold Dr. King as exemplary not just because he was extraordinary himself, but because he showed us what ordinary people can do when faced with extraordinary challenges. While he could not solve all of this country’s problems, he showed us that working together they could be solved, and gave us hope that they would be, through the efforts of people serving others and working as one.
So, we come into this new year with hope — because of men like Dr. King, and because of each other. We come into this new year together, and together we will rise even higher.
Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.
Remarks and Addresses
Academic Year: