Dear Members of the Teachers College Community,
Tonight marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the High Holidays. So I want to begin here by extending my warmest wishes for a Shana tova, a good year, to all Jewish members of our TC family.
There is something profoundly beautiful about devoting ten days to deep, individual introspection and reflection, and to coming together as a community with renewed resolve to be better and do better.
In that spirit, I want to share a couple of thoughts on how our TC community can be better and do better.
First, we can take great pride in the manner with which we have risen to extraordinary challenges to keep the College strong and focused on our teaching and research mission to advance social justice. We also recognize that we always have more work to do to make TC both a more powerful force for good in society, and a better exemplar of diversity, equity, inclusion and mutual respect. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to sharing our plans for being better and doing better as an institution.
Second, each week brings grim news of suffering around the world from which members of our TC family are not spared. Right now, TC students, alumni, and family members are among the tens of millions of people directly affected by the devastating wildfires on the West Coast. Please consider making a contribution to organizations providing critical support to victims, evacuees, and first responders. (This article contains information and links to reputable organizations that are on the ground now.)
Third, as we resolve to do good for others and watch out for one another, we each could use reminders to be good to ourselves. I have frequently praised all of you collectively, and many of you individually, for performing superbly and often heroically over the past six months (!). I have also recognized that, under these conditions, with great performances come even greater pressures and stress. That is especially pronounced for those who have young children or are caring for elderly or infirm loved ones. That is why I have urged each of you to take time (and vacation time!) for yourselves to rest, exercise, and recharge.
Now, I want to take that message further: Anyone among us can be vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other risks to one’s mental wellness. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression – or just feeling that you might be sinking – the last thing you should do is “suck it up” and persevere on your own. Please don’t hesitate another moment to seek the help you need for yourself or a family member. Along with our Employee Assistance Program for full-time employees, TC offers a number of mental wellness resources and supports for students, faculty, and staff here and here.
From the outset of the pandemic, I have made caring for our people my highest priority. As we all continue to look out and care for one another, let’s make sure each of us remembers to be good enough to ourselves that we seek assistance when we need it.
President, Teachers College