Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
This Thanksgiving will be different. More virtual, smaller gatherings and the use of creativity to safely celebrate with friends and families will be the norm. Our day-to-day living is unlike what we once knew and the enduring stress, anxiety and losses leave many feeling disheartened. It can feel challenging to embrace the good during times like these. It might even feel implausible.
That’s why I believe that focusing on gratitude is the antidote. Despite the pandemic limiting the scope of many of our lives, there is still plenty of good out there. My list of thanks is extensive. Today, I’ll share just a few of the many reasons why I am grateful.
Open Minds and Hearts
At the start of the school year, UWM’s African Diaspora Council and UWM Police partnered to collect and buy supplies for students in the community, raising enough to provide supplies at LaFollette and Hopkins Lloyd Community schools in Milwaukee. Additionally, UWM Police Officer Craig Rafferty went to an area Wal-Mart to buy disinfectant wipes – which are hard to find – for the schools. He spoke with a store manager about what UWM was doing and the store donated two pallets of supplies and $200 additional to spend on supplies for the kids. I couldn’t be more grateful for all involved.
We have seen what has perhaps been one of the longest and unusual election seasons. UWM students voted early and by absentee ballots at the highest rates ever because of the great work of students, faculty and staff participating in the Student Voter Work Group and our city-wide early voting location in the Student Union. That is something to be grateful for, indeed.
The generosity of our extended Panther family is evident in our support of UWM, our students and the communities we serve. During the 2019-20 fiscal year, we raised $35 million – the second best fundraising year in UWM history! We had a record-breaking “Don’t Prowl So Close to Me” virtual 5K run/walk, raising $67,000 to support students through the Chancellor’s Student Success Fund (CSSF). Altogether, we have raised $819,752 in emergency funds via the Forward Students Emergency Fund ($236,913), the UWM Food Pantry ($44,535) and the CSSF ($538,304). And, we have given back as a university as well through the United Way/State and University Employees Combined Giving (SECC) campaign to benefit our community. There is still time to add your support through Nov. 30.
Partnerships, Research and Engagement
UWM is known for its partnerships and research. I am grateful for the significant progress we have made to engage our communities and build on our research.
UWM is part of the first regional consortium of higher education institutions in the country to sign on to the Moon Shot for Equity initiative, which aims to ensure that students of color graduate at the same rate as white students. We are collaborating with Carthage College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Thank you to all who have been, and will be, part of our work to end equity gaps in higher education by 2030.
UWM and our research partners were extremely pleased that the National Institutes of Health awarded $24.4 million in continued support of the regional Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI). This competitive grant renewal funds the work of a consortium of eight regional organizations, including UWM, over the next 5 years and is being managed by the Medical College of Wisconsin. The mission of the CTSI is to develop an integrated, shared home for clinical and translational research and research training.
Our faculty, researchers and students continue to amaze me with their discoveries, ingenuity and support of others to improve lives. Thank you.
Your Health and Your Support
I am optimistic that we will get through the challenges ahead of us, given our Panther resolve and grit. But, in light of the continuing positive cases counts and threat of post-Thanksgiving resurgences, I ask two things of you. First, please continue to do all that you can to remain safe. This means limiting travel and exposure, frequent handwashing, and operating in less social and more distant ways, which isn’t easy, I know. Second, you have all worked extremely hard and taken on extra things this year. Simply put, we have never done more in a year—professionally, personally, and organizationally. It is especially important that you find time to rest, relax and take care of yourself. We need you strong, and I care about all of you. Our future very much depends on you and I implore you now, more than ever, to take care of yourselves, family and others.
A final thought. There are innumerable instances of your kindness and support that fill me with gratitude. When I announced my health challenge last month I was immensely touched by the flood of support in the form of emails, letters, calls and offers of help. My heart is full with the comfort and encouragement you have given to me. For this, I am thankful beyond measure.
From my family to you and all who you hold dear – near and far – have a wonderful holiday of thanks.
Mark A. Mone, PhD