March 11, 2021

Marking a Year of Challenge and Resilience

One year ago today the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. It feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago. Many of us have experienced losses and hopefully many of us have also discovered newfound strengths. This past year will go down as a most remarkable one in the history of UCI.

When we look back on this time, we will remember the hardship and loss, the isolation, the complete upending of the world we knew and the way of life we enjoyed. But I hope we will also remember that we are all part of an institution that rose to the occasion and did so much good for our region and the world.

The resilience of our health team, researchers, faculty, students and staff is nothing short of extraordinary. The stories that highlight our unprecedented and turbulent year – in which UCI has not only survived but in many ways made progress – are showcased in the special report, The Year of COVID.

As an academic health system, we were made for these moments and our expertise and response shined bright in the darkness. I want to commend each of you for your tenacity, flexibility and continued perseverance over this past year. UCI and UCI Health had many accomplishments and led the county and region in the fight against COVID-19.

This last year also saw the campus’s outpouring of compassion for the challenges faced by our students, faculty and staff. The care and attention with which our frontline employees have met logistical and professional challenges while serving our broader community is nothing short of exemplary. Our students responded to calls for greater vigilance during the peaks of the virus and helped limit campus spread, all while balancing academic demands and the stress of learning remotely. I know I will personally look back at this past year proud of all this campus has done to support each other both as individuals and as a broader Anteater community. It will be this same compassion and empathy that will help guide us down the path of slowly returning to “normal”.

Anniversaries are normally celebrated, not just marked, and yet, paradoxically, there is something to celebrate, for this past year has been in so many ways UCI’s finest hour. The importance and value of this institution to the people of Orange County has never been more clear. Over and over, our friends and neighbors, struggling through this unprecedented time, turned to us for science, knowledge, scholarship and service. Each of you who responded to this call – from the students who manufactured face shields to the faculty who shifted their research to a coronavirus focus to the staff who have kept the place running to the heroes of UCI Health – truly seized the moment, demonstrating the highest commitment to our mission of serving the community.

Thank you for your continued perseverance and agility. Working together, each of us doing our part, we can move UCI Forward and into a brilliant future.

Fiat Lux,

Chancellor Howard Gillman