On Sept. 8, I spoke at a conference organized by the University of Santander in Bucaramanga, Colombia, where I discussed (in Spanish) the role and responsibility of the modern research university to develop creative, sustainable solutions to confront the complex challenges affecting humanity everywhere.
As we join with our colleagues, families, and friends to remember 9/11 this and every year, I am grateful for the stories that keep the sacrifices close in our hearts and minds. Stories like these are the ones that I told my own children, who were at the time too small to comprehend the incomprehensible — stories of individuals, communities, a country, and a world in grief and turning to hope. These are the stories that we must honor, remember, and tell over and over for generations to come.
Nearly two years after becoming president, I had the pleasure of speaking at my first New Student Convocation in McCamish Pavilion on Sunday, Aug. 22. In my address to our incoming class, I discussed Georgia Tech’s mission and offered my top 10 suggestions for a safe and productive Fall 2021 semester.
I know you are as excited as I am to see our campus full of life again — classes and labs, vibrant residence and dining halls, old traditions and new friendships, and an exciting football season just around the corner! I am looking forward to welcoming both our newest and our returning students, faculty, and staff, and to work with you toward another successful year. Thanks to your work and the collective efforts of our community last year, we were able to keep Georgia Tech moving forward while containing the effects of the Covid-19 virus. It wasn’t easy, but we did it together and ended up having an extraordinary year after all. Covid-19 may have changed the way we do some things, but it also highlighted our strength and resilience. Now that same commitment and resolve is how we must move forward.
As an alum of the oldest school of Telecommunications Engineering in Spain, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for the 100th anniversary of the first class. The field, which is very similar to what we know in the United States as electrical and computer engineering, has played a pivotal role in driving progress around the world, connecting us, enabling economic opportunity, and, very importantly, preparing us to deal with the global pandemic. Interestingly, 100 years ago, when the first Spanish telecommunications engineers received their degrees, the world was also fighting a deadly pandemic. The differences between then and now are striking and can only be explained by the development of information and communication technology. Even after the pandemic gets under control, we continue to face global, existencial threats, and we must accept the challenge of leveraging technology to deal with them successfully.
The tragic death of George Floyd last year, the deep pain it caused across the country, and the guilty verdict announced yesterday in the trial of the police officer who murdered him are reminders of the work that still lies ahead in our journey toward justice. Too many Black people and other people of color are too often the targets of violence, hate, and racism. It is up to all of us to change that. Let us use this moment as an opportunity to come together, to heal together, and to recommit to the idea that we all share the same humanity with the same inalienable rights.
I recently participated in a panel discussion called "What are the learnings from learning online?" at the Times Higher Education (THE) Live U.S. conference. The conversation brought me together with administrators from private institutions like Stanford and Marymount to discuss the challenges and takeaways from a year of learning remotely.
This week, we gathered for a dedication of an exciting addition to Georgia Tech’s growing public sculpture collection, interestingly named Koan. Standing 12 meters tall, Koan is a magnificent structure in the center of campus, designed by the late John Portman, renowned architect and designer and one of our most distinguished alumni. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Portman in life. But I love the message Koan will send on his behalf to the generations of Yellow Jackets to come.
This week I received my first dose of the covid-19 vaccine. It filled me with relief and immense gratitude. Never before had we (the global "we", the humankind "we") developed, tested, manufactured, distributed and delivered a vaccine to so many people this fast. Much work remains to be done to increase distribution by an order of magnitude and reach billions of people. But what we have so far accomplished makes me optimistic about our ability to tackle the most complex problems affecting us as a species and the planet we inhabit.
Yesterday’s senseless acts of violence in metro Atlanta are heartbreaking and incomprehensible. Together with recent reports about increased violent acts against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country, they raise deeply concerning questions about racism in our country. Violence against Asian Americans is violence against us all. There is much we can do to combat racism. I urge us to use these events to come together, support all members of our community, and engage in action to eradicate racism and hate from our community.