Coming together in an extraordinary time. I can’t think of a better way to sum up my thoughts about the Cougar family during the current pandemic, which has turned so many lives worldwide upside down.

I reflect back to March, when all of us in the United States began to understand the gravity of COVID-19 and the need to drastically alter our daily work and personal routines. From a University standpoint, it meant moving our entire statewide enterprise from an in-person to an online operation—a monumental task that our faculty and staff rallied to achieve in barely two weeks’ time.

WSU President Kirk Schulz illustration

WSU President Kirk Schulz (Illustration Derek Mueller)

Being involved in that process was truly humbling. Faculty, staff, and students from across the WSU system came together to identify creative and effective ways to allow the University to maintain its teaching, research, and service activities in an online environment. The spirit of cooperation and can-do attitude I witnessed inspired me and the entire University community.

Our faculty, staff, and alumni are involved in similarly inspiring efforts to address the coronavirus and its myriad impacts. Scientists in the College of Veterinary Medicine are working to identify ways to prevent the severe, deadly pneumonia seen with COVID-19. WSU epidemiologists are tracking the determinants that allow the virus to spread with the goal of informing science-based policies to reduce transmission in health care systems, the community, schools, and workplaces. Other researchers are focusing on other aspects of the virus, including the fallout of mass social and physical distancing efforts: economic impacts, food security, voting issues, and the boredom caused by isolation.

Alumni such as retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Raquel Bono and Glen Tran, whom you will read about in this issue, are among the Coug alumni who are on the front lines of addressing the new realities the pandemic has brought to our lives. Admiral Bono is serving as director of Washington’s COVID-19 health care response, while Glen is running one of two new units at Honeywell manufacturing N95 masks.

The impacts of COVID-19 are likely to be with us for a long time. The virus, along with other recent events, have reminded us that there is much happening in the world that needs fixing. Disease, extreme poverty, religious strife, sexual discrimination, unimaginable violence. The list is long.

But I remain hopeful about the future, largely because the WSU community is a tremendous font of hope. In times like these when we are faced with adversity, the Coug family rallies again and again with remarkable resolve to address challenges large and small. Working together—with open hearts and minds—we will overcome this unprecedented period of our lives.

 

Kirk Schulz

President, Washington State University