By Frank LaFerla, PhD, Dean and Chancellor’s Professor
The UCI School of Biological Sciences 2020 Dean’s Report is available online by clicking here.
The first half of 2020 has been a difficult period of time in our country. We have faced the COVID-19 pandemic and the horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Rayshard Brooks, which has further exposed the extreme systemic injustice against the Black community. This year’s report mainly highlights a selection of the BioSci researchers who are working on various aspects of the battle against coronavirus. However, my message also acknowledges the School’s ongoing efforts to launch a Plan of Action to eradicate racism in our community. While Inclusive Excellence has always been one of our core values and an integral component of the School’s strategic plan, the events that transpired over the last few weeks have led to a reconsideration of how Inclusive Excellence should be implemented, and in particular, how we can address anti-Black racism within our School. This effort will take additional time to ensure that multiple stakeholders are engaged and that the plan is carefully crafted. I recognize actions only translate into support when trust is built, and establishing ongoing and active engagement with the Black community and other groups, both internally and externally, will be essential. More information about the School’s response will be forthcoming.
The BioSci students have been particularly shaken by the events of this year and have endured many stresses. It is difficult to be a biology major under the best of circumstances, but it is particularly challenging with all the events that have occurred. Numerous students have voiced their disappointment at not being able to walk down the aisle for their commencement. It is in this spirit that I hope the virtual graduation activities for our students featuring a surprise speaker, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made the event as memorable as possible. The School will be forever grateful to Dr. Fauci for taking his valuable time to record a special, very personal message for our graduating class of 2020. A transcript of his message is included in the Dean’s Report.