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From the College of Natural Sciences

Working Together Through Times of Transition

Dean Goldbart contacted the community of staff and faculty as the COVID-19 crisis continues and other changes take place on the UT campus.

Dear CNS Faculty & Staff,

Like people everywhere, our community of Natural Sciences faculty, staff and students has contended with significant change over the past few weeks. I want to acknowledge upfront how challenging so much transition at once can be. Change of any kind makes demands on us, and the adaptations we've needed to make have required a great deal indeed, from moving classes entirely online, to pausing laboratory research, to making changes at home, where we now shelter in place, office, and teach (both UT students and, for many, our own pre-K-12 children, as well).

Here at UT, many have expressed feeling added uncertainty, with news in recent days that both Provost McInnis and President Fenves are preparing to assume positions elsewhere. I want to assure you that the College of Natural Sciences is secure and in a strong position for the future. There are many reasons why, including the amazing fortitude and talents in our distinct community of staff and faculty; a strong operational foundation across the college; the wide range of dedicated unit, department and dean's office leaders who remain committed to the college; and the solid relationships our college has with new leaders, such as incoming interim Provost Dan Jaffe and incoming interim Vice President for Research Ali Preston.

We in science and mathematics have a cornerstone role to play right now in guiding the world out of dark times brought about COVID-19. There is evidence of this in the artificial intelligence approaches to drug discovery, in the vaccines now in clinical trial, in epidemiological models policy makers look to, in public health advice from our experts, in the training and support for future STEM leaders and health professionals, and in much more that members of this community contribute to in ways large and small. I am hopeful that the global trust in the power for good in science and mathematics will persist long after we have overcome COVID-19.

Many of you and many of our students and their families are having to cope with serious health and financial challenges, as well. Nonetheless, in this difficult time that none among us would have chosen, I am both grateful for all that our community has achieved and committed to supporting you through this difficult time. Already, our students have returned to learning, and our faculty to teaching. Scientists have donated protective equipment to hospitals and marshaled resources to fight COVID-19. Staff and supervisors are conceiving of creative strategies to combat isolation and help those in especially tough circumstances. All is far from perfect, but I have been humbled by these inspiring examples of excellence and the meaningful support I have seen so many extend to one another.

Together, we will weather the changes this spring has brought with a solid foundation beneath us, continued partnerships across the college, and individual care and attention for one another—the people who make our college the vital and resilient community that it is.

Paul M. Goldbart | Dean and R.E. Boyer Chair
College of Natural Sciences | The University of Texas at Austin | cns.utexas.edu

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Friday, 03 February 2023

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