March 16, 2020
To the members of the MIT community,
Amid the flood of Covid-19 information, regulations, policies and advice, I offer a simple message of solidarity and support.
We are all suddenly learning what a global pandemic requires of us – and it is difficult, for everyone. Difficult for the students, particularly the Class of 2020, who had to frantically pack, part from each other and depart from MIT, missing out on each other’s company and the pleasures of college in spring. Difficult for parents and families, emotionally, practically, financially. And terribly difficult for those students who at first were not sure where they could go.
These are difficult days, too, for faculty and instructors scrambling to reassure students, rework grading policies and put classes online – and for all those, including research and technical staff and postdocs, seeking a sensible path to scaling back our immense research enterprise. Difficult for staff and administrators across MIT striving around the clock to make wise decisions with compassion for individuals and care for our whole community. Difficult for our alumni, seeking meaningful ways to help from a distance. And difficult for absolutely everyone as we wonder about the future and worry about each other, our neighbors, our friends, our families and ourselves.
In this crisis, many individuals and groups in our community deserve special praise. You can share your admiration for their outstanding efforts by filling out this form – a wonderful initiative from Human Resources. Your public appreciations will be posted here.
And on behalf of all of us, I offer our profound gratitude to those members of our community who are accelerating frontier research and marshalling the strength of the region’s army of biomedical experts to fight Covid-19.
The public health advice is unambiguous; I am certain the current dramatic disruptions are a necessary reaction to a clear, present, growing danger.
Yet I see the sacrifices they require from all of you, for the greater good – and I am deeply proud and grateful to be a member of a community that has responded with such grace and such speed.
Thanks to your efforts, we have drastically reduced the population on our campus, helped our students find alternate living situations, effectively increased social distancing – and thereby collectively made an enormous contribution to this high-stakes battle for public health.
We strive and aspire, always, to be One MIT. And in this moment – as we are called to be one with our city, our state, our nation and the world – I have immense confidence in our continued ability to respond with selflessness, foresight, compassion and kindness.
The coming weeks are likely to bring new and unpredictable difficulties, including real health consequences for people we know and love. May we all strive to keep one another close despite the unaccustomed distance and take strength in knowing that we will get through this historic challenge together.
With gratitude and admiration,
L. Rafael Reif