Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Message from the President: A Transition Towards Better Days

Good morning everyone,

As we celebrate Appreciation Week, let me begin by saying how much I have appreciated and admired your creativity, hard work and compassion throughout the 2020-21 academic year. It has been, without question, the most challenging year in our history, but we got through it as a community. Sometimes, the simplest words are the best to convey the deepest feelings, so with all my heart I wish to say, to each and every member of faculty and staff, as well of course to all our students, THANK YOU!

Unfortunately, it will not be possible to hold in-person Convocation ceremonies this spring. As we did last year, Carleton will be hosting virtual graduation celebrations for our 2021 graduates from June 21 to 25, 2021.  More details will soon be available on the Convocation website. The day where in-person celebrations will again be possible is not that far away, and we will make sure that all students in the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 have an opportunity to cross the stage to the cheers of their loved ones.

There are a number of encouraging signs that we will eventually emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 2, the province has lifted the stay-at-home order, and is now preparing to move into Phase One of the Ontario reopening framework. The Province of Ontario has now administered upwards of 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nationally, as of yesterday, 68 per cent of Canadians over 18 had received at least one dose of their vaccine. I was fortunate to receive my AstraZeneca vaccine on campus last month, and our clinic has now begun to administer mRNA vaccines. If you have not already done so, you can pre-register for yours at Health and Counselling Services.

While the 2021-22 academic year will still present significant challenges, it will almost certainly be less difficult than the one we have just completed. Like other universities in Canada, we continue to plan for a safe and gradual return to campus in the fall, in line with the fall 2021 report of the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) Working Group. The fall timetable, which will offer students a wide array of both on campus and online courses, is now available and registration starts on June 28. I take this opportunity to extend a special welcome to all our new Ravens!

We are intensively preparing to assist academic departments and other units in gradually and safely returning to campus starting in August in order to be ready for the fall term. This important work is coordinated by the Return to Campus (RTC) Working Group, and has included broad consultations with stakeholder groups, including Senate and the Board of Governors. The return to campus will be phased based on operational needs, with the aim of providing in-person support services for students who will also be returning to campus in September. This phased approach will ensure we are following all public health guidelines and regulations, notably physical distancing and building capacity limits. Phases 1 (essential services) and 2 (approved research) are already completed, and we are now preparing for phase 3 and the return of units that directly support students with a target date of August 23. Phase 4 (remaining administrative units) will follow later in the fall. The Return to Campus Working Group will be working directly with each of the departments and units towards a safe and successful return. The Return to Campus website is constantly updated and, as always, any questions about this process can be addressed to covidinfo@carleton.ca.

In parallel, the Carleton University Flexible Arrangements Working Group is consultatively developing guidelines for flexible work arrangements during the transition back to campus and post-pandemic. The group will be sharing their recommendations and supporting documents this week towards developing departmental work plans in accordance with CUSP and RTC recommendations. As of next week, they will also be holding open sessions to share the approach for the first phase (fall 2021) of Carleton’s flexible work arrangements framework. Over the fall term, we will have an unprecedented opportunity to explore the elements of workplace flexibility that best work for us, and we will benefit from what we learn as we build back stronger for our post-pandemic future.

As always, any questions you may have that are not answered by Carleton’s COVID-19 information website and its FAQ section should be forwarded to covidinfo@carleton.ca.

In closing, I would like to share the 2021 President’s report which attempts to capture the highlights of our year. Together, through extremely challenging circumstances, we have achieved another record-breaking year of research funding, immense progress in online pedagogy, and significant advances in sustainability, accessibility, Indigenous initiatives, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion. I cannot tell you how proud I am of our community.

And I would be remiss if I did not thank everyone for allowing me to serve a second term as President of our great institution. This is a time of significant challenge but also great opportunities for universities, and I am grateful to the entire Carleton community for your continued trust and support!

Have a wonderful day everyone,

Benoit

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor
Carleton University

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in , , , , , ,
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