Dear Members of the School of Business Community,
As I return this month to the Dean’s chair following a year as interim University Provost, I am deeply impressed and proud of the School of Business students, faculty, staff and alumni. As Interim Dean David Souder led the School in meeting the challenges of what is undoubtedly the most turbulent and uncertain era of modern times. In the past three months, we have experienced a deadly worldwide pandemic not seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu; economic collapse and volatility comparable to the market crashes of 1929 and 2008; and cultural outrage and demand for racial justice and equality that sadly recalls centuries of experiences, painful to remember. Our community has responded with strength, poise, innovation and compassion.
I am glad to be home, humbled and inspired to lead the School through these challenging times and into the future. I believe the School of Business must be an agent of change. Business is a formidable force for good and our students and community must help focus our energy. We must convene essential conversations focused on specific actions. With inspired programs and the collective advocacy of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni we can lead change. To this end, I will use this new monthly communication to inspire such conversation and action. I look forward to engaging with all of you.
These are uncertain times. The landscape changes daily. Our application and enrollment numbers are better than they have ever been, but COVID-19 is the ever-present uncertainty. We are focused on delivering excellent educational experiences to the students who so earnestly seek them, but also focused on the need to do so responsibly and safely for all our students, faculty and staff. Our prospective students view advancing their education as an essential and proactive step in meeting the challenges of the world today. Potential employers mitigate their human resource needs against unfolding economic challenges. We have seen internships cancelled and job starts rescinded or delayed. It is a difficult time, but our graduates are resilient and are performing well in the context of this difficult time. Their success is a testament to the quality, reach and impact of our School and the important investment our alumni have made in the future success of UConn.
The Class of 2020 has confronted so many special problems. They were robbed of a highly anticipated and hard-earned traditional final semester on our campuses that should have culminated in a graduation shared with friends and family. They responded with courage, persistence and innovation, adapting to a fully virtual educational experience almost overnight. As I reflect on the Class of 2020, I am moved by their resilience, their compassion and eagerness to help. They have gone above and beyond and are role models for the students who will follow them.
In honor and in celebration of the great Class of 2020, I will be utilizing the Dean’s Fund to provide emergency relief to current and future students whose financial need has been brought on or amplified by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to mobilize the Dean's Fund to help support our students in need, I encourage you to join us. I am asking friends, alumni and parents to consider a gift of $20.20 in honor of the Class of 2020. For those who are able, perhaps a gift of $2,020 would demonstrate the level of pride we have in this great Class and the support our students so richly deserve. I invite you to contribute to the Dean’s Fund here.
I wish you all good health and safety, and a happy summer!
John A. Elliott
Dean and Auran J. Fox Chair in Business