Dean’s Message: pandemic creates disruption, but together we are stronger

Author: Linda Kirk Fox

It is an honor to serve as the seventh dean in the second century of this college.

I’m in my 10th year at UGA as dean, and in my 20th year as a university administrator, having served as associate dean and dean at another institution before UGA.

I thought I’d seen it all. But in my wildest dreams I never imagined the pandemic and the necessary response to be safe, agile and inventive in our work and learning environment.

We are learning and changing every day. All of us – alumni, students, college leadership, staff and faculty – are helping the college navigate these uncharted waters that have been the source of so much heartbreak and of course many new ways of doing things.

One of those changes was our decision to shift from a traditional print magazine to an online platform. We made this decision in alignment with our desire to be better stewards of the funds entrusted to us. We would love to hear your feedback!

Another change: In August, we held our first virtual leadership retreat with members of the FACS Alumni Association board and student leaders.

As we gathered via Zoom, I reminded the alumni and students of our college’s reputation as a trailblazer. We were the entry point for women at the University of Georgia in 1918, and we have not stopped breaking barriers and climbing to new heights since.

Our college is always piloting new initiatives and we are always open to leading with confidence.

During our call, I reminded our college leaders about the importance of always being present and intentional in our interactions, now more than ever. As we are all bombarded with so many distractions and interruptions, it’s an important reminder for all of us to help each other feel connected in this new world.

I’m proud of the way our college has responded to these challenging times. You will read some of those stories in this issue.

From defending dissertations via Zoom to rapidly adapting our traditional models to better serve Georgians remotely with a variety of services, our people are answering the call to build community, to offer science-driven solutions and to serve.

It hasn’t been easy, and we know more change is coming that will require even greater commitment and innovation.

But I take comfort in knowing resilience and creativity is in our DNA as a college, and that our diversity is the source of so much of our strength.

Together, we are stronger.