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A message from Professor Chris Day

Dear alumni and friends,

These are unprecedented times, for Newcastle and for the world. Each day brings new challenges, and each day our students and staff show renewed strength and creativity in facing them as well as supporting those around them. From the early days before the pandemic was declared, colleagues across the entire University have worked long hours, making plans, responding to new advice, adjusting procedures, and implementing solutions, in an ever-evolving cycle. Their forward-thinking and resilience has been remarkable, and shows true grit and the indomitable Newcastle spirit.

Our clear priority is our students and our colleagues – and keeping them safe and healthy. We recognise that students have had their study plans abruptly disturbed, but we will not let this disruption derail their future. Academics have rapidly retooled their modules, moving lectures to online delivery, and coming up with effective ways to communicate with students, evaluate and assess their progress. Our aim is that all students, at whatever stage, will be able to move their career forward. In achieving this aim, we know that staff and students together will invent new ways of learning, teaching and collaborating, and our educational goals will be enriched. Already, students are launching their own interactive digital workshops – and we encourage and facilitate even more such innovation.

Many students have gone home, but many students are staying on campus, unable to get home. The community has come together to ensure that students who are still here feel welcome and safe, and are well supported by resources and facilities. Maintaining this level of care for the on-campus students draws on the commitment and flexibility of all staff across all departments, from cleaners and caterers, to IT specialists, librarians, technical managers and research leaders.

We are proud of the great community spirit that shines daily across the University, as students help each other and others across the region. Residents in Jesmond, in lockdown due to illness, have praised student neighbours offering to help with shopping and prescription collection. Scientists in the Medical School with specialist skills are signing up to help improve laboratory screening for COVID-19.  Clinical academics are gearing up for new responsibilities to help with the ever-increasing pressure on NHS services. And, focusing on the wellbeing of all, University colleagues have started up an online pop-up choir for everyone to sing along, in harmony.

All of these efforts have required an enormous amount of planning, rapid decision-making, and understanding by everyone and I am grateful to all for rising us up: students, staff, alumni, friends and partners across the entire world-wide Newcastle community.  

I recognise that many of you have also had your lives turned upside down. We also aim to help you by keeping you connected with our global network, communicating regularly, offering support and, we hope, some light relief through the creative outputs or simple stories from the Newcastle community. Please do let us know how you are doing. Together we will come through these difficult times, with renewed vigour.

With every best wish for your safety, health and wellbeing,

Professor Chris Day
Vice Chancellor and President, Newcastle University

We are ONE community

published on: 24 March 2020