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Message from the Vice Provost – September 2021

Portrait of Phil Reid
Philip J. Reid, Vice Provost, Academic Student Affairs

Now that autumn quarter has begun and we have returned to in-person learning and work, I want to pause to say two words to each of you: Thank you.

Thank you for continuing your work over the past year and a half, for adapting to evolving situations, and for keeping students at the center of our work. I recognize that working with constant change and significant uncertainty is always difficult. Often, we didn’t have answers. Just as often, the answers changed.

Our teams frequently support people who are exasperated and worried. The international student who is anxious about getting a visa appointment. The instructor tasked with learning new instructional technologies they need to deliver their course. The student who missed a critical deadline needed to graduate. The applicant who anxiously awaits an admission decision. In cases like these, we attempt to help people through things we ourselves cannot control or influence. The changes to immigration rules or the acquisition of laptops for students when the supply chain is broken.

Yet, even when at times we take the brunt of people expressing their frustration, we stay professional and helpful, and we press on. Thank you for that.

This year brings different challenges than the last. We have known for 150 years how to work, teach, perform research and learn in person. In contrast, we’ve spent the past 18 months learning how to work remotely. We recognize the benefits of both in-person and remote work, and now we need to blend the best of both so that we deliver to our students, faculty, and colleagues the best possible experience during their time at the UW. It will take time for us to define our new “hybrid” environment, but by working together, we will do just that.

I’ve been on campus throughout the pandemic working towards the day when we would all return. For some of us, the return to campus is welcome. Others are more cautious. Remember that we are all in different places with different concerns about returning. Having compassion for ourselves and others will help us navigate apprehensions about the upcoming quarter and beyond.

The good news is that vaccination rates within our University community exceed 90 percent and are climbing. We have many safety protocols in place from air purifiers to testing and contact tracing, to masking. Our regional public health response to the pandemic has been one of the strongest in the nation. I believe we are well-positioned for a safe autumn quarter.

Again, thank you for your work over the past year and a half and for the work yet to come.


Philip J. Reid
Vice Provost, Academic and Student Affairs
Professor of Chemistry