March 27, 2020
Dear Members of the McMaster community,
Life as we know it has changed considerably at the University.
Only the most essential activities are continuing across our campuses; the vast majority of our community is studying, teaching and working remotely. The end of the term is like none we have ever seen before and, looking to the future, we are planning for potentially months of change and disruption.
But despite all of this, the fundamental elements of a strong and positively focused university are very much in evidence at McMaster.
In our research labs, the collaboration and creative innovation needed to find solutions to COVID-19 continues to move forward. McMaster’s Arinjay Banerjee, a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster’s Institute for Infectious Disease Research, along with collaborators from Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, was successful in isolating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
At McMaster’s Manufacturing Research Institute, engineers are working across multiple areas of expertise designing a prototype of a new ventilator that can be put into production quickly to provide hospitals with the necessary equipment to support COVID-19 patients.
McMaster continues to be the world’s only producer of the radioactive isotope I-125. Staff in the reactor continue to do everything possible to meet the global demand for this critical cancer treatment.
From assessing the impact of infectious disease and the science of exercise on our aging communities to capturing the impact on mental health and societal change, researchers and research staff are reaching across disciplines, bringing their expertise and innovation to tasks that will have the biggest impact on the pandemic.
In addition to our researchers, there are faculty members finding new and creative ways to bring their teaching to students no longer sitting in front of them, and ensuring that students can finish their courses and complete their programs in time to take the next step. There are many, many others who are keeping our campuses clean and safe for those who remain in place, keeping our information and finance systems running, and supporting our students through all this upheaval and uncertainty. They are the quiet heroes of this disquieting time, and their work is critical and appreciated.
These are the principles and commitments that strengthen our University. They are the reason that McMaster has become a world leader in research, teaching and community contributions that are making an impact down the road and around the world.
The COVID-19 emergency has thrown our health-care systems, our economy and our social fabric into disarray. In addition to claiming lives, it presents a global challenge to our usual ways of living, working and interacting with others. We have the opportunity now to focus on what is important, and to find our way through this crisis with strengthened ties to each other and a renewed commitment to work together on common goals.
We are all stewards of McMaster’s legacy. We each have a role to play in upholding the fundamental importance of science, evidence, expertise, perseverance, humanity and community that will bring us through this generational challenge.
I want to thank all of you for your hard work and your unselfish commitment.