To say that 2020 has been an extraordinarily challenging year is an understatement.
In March, as COVID-19’s global impact began to emerge locally, regionally, and nationally, we took quick action to continue the work of the university under the strictures of social distancing.
In late May and early June, the shockingly violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery sparked tremors of grief and rage throughout the United States and globally, and fostered a new sense of urgency in many communities regarding the need to take action against systemic racism and injustice. Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, describes the humanities and the social sciences as “a way for this country to learn from the past, understand the present, and devise paths to progress and peace.” In this moment of national turmoil, I have to ask myself as well as you: How will we contribute to devising “paths to progress and peace” for this country? Education is one of our greatest tools in the fight for equity and justice. We must all be open to learning, to changing, to acknowledging our missteps and mistakes, and to becoming better advocates and allies.
As we grapple with a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and a social crisis in the United States, all of which affect Mason’s students, the CHSS community nonetheless finds reason for pride. Pride in our students, who adapted to remote learning while keeping their families safe from COVID-19. Pride in our 2020 graduates, who launched into an uncertain world, carrying with them our hopes for their success and confidence in their resilience and ingenuity. Pride in our faculty, staff, and alumni, who supported Mason students through the Patriots Helping Patriots campaign, helped each other transition successfully to remote instruction and telework, and are collaborating now with colleagues across the university to pro-vide our students and community with opportunities for learning about social and racial justice and how both might be achieved.
This summer, we entered a new season of change at Mason as we welcomed the university’s eighth president, Gregory Washington. A scholar known for his research as well as his leadership, he comes to us from the University of California’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering, where he served as dean. We look forward to working with him to help the university continue to grow in its mission to serve all of our students and all of the members of our larger community. As we commit to our continued growth in knowledge and discovery, CHSS remains dedicated to leading the way.
Dean Ann Ardis, College of Humanities and Social Sciences