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Nineteen: Welcome to Fall 2021

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Jeremy Haefner

Letter  •

Dear DU community members,  

Welcome to fall quarter! And to our Sturm community—welcome to the fourth week of your fall semester!  

Back in the spring, we hoped by this time to not be battling COVID-19 as we are today. But, we must take stock of how much we have to celebrate despite this ongoing challenge. We are welcoming the largest class of first-year and transfer students in DU’s history—and the most diverse. Our graduate student enrollments are also robust, exceeding our targets. And our campus is incredibly safe with 97% of those cleared for campus being vaccinated, frequent testing and contact tracing to help monitor the virus’s spread, and indoor masking serving as another layer of security. In contrast to the fall of 2020, we are bringing into academic year 2021 a fuller toolbox of proven successes and lessons learned. Most importantly, people are excited to be back together to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  

Now, let’s expand our focus. Every single day, this community builds upon all we learned yesterday.  

So, let us bring renewed vigor into academic year 2021, pursuing our goals with both care and energy. I am deeply and personally committed to the continued implementation and support of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, the Native American and Indigenous Initiatives and the Black Community Initiatives. As well, our sustainability goals and work are more urgent each passing year, and increasing access to DU and higher education for all students remains a top priority and focus.  

Let us bring curiosity and compassion into academic year 2021. The foundation of higher education is expanding our understanding of the world (and beyond!) and one another. As we come together, let us do so with open minds but also with profound respect—respect for our friends, colleagues and peers and also for the wonderful diversity of thought they bring to our conversations and learning. This respect, kindness and compassion is a requirement at DU and central to our values.  

Finally, let us bring a profound sense of gratitude into academic year 2021. Today more than ever, there are many ways we are taking care of each other’s wellbeing. From wearing our face coverings, getting vaccinated, and testing regularly to volunteering at our SPIT labs and supporting others while they quarantine or isolate—this community is living up to its commitment to the public good. Thank you. 

This year, together, we will strive to understand more, help more, connect more. A new academic year is not a clean slate so much as a next step, and I am honored to be able to take that step alongside you, building on what we’ve accomplished and looking forward to all we have yet to do. 

Happy AY ’21, DU.  



Jeremy Haefner