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Welcome to the Spring Semester 2021 from Dean Antonia M. Villarruel

Good-bye to 2020—and welcome to 2021! We are all hopeful that this new year will bring good luck and good health for us all. Certainly, with several COVID-19 vaccines now approved in the United States, we see a path out of the global pandemic that has influenced every aspect of our lives over the last year. It is particularly gratifying to welcome freshman and sophomores back to campus—and, of course, to welcome all of you to spring semester.

We anticipate many changes, some immediate and some gradual, as we begin to populate campus, including regular COVID testing and COVID vaccination. As you are aware, the planning and implementation of many of these processes with the University and our health system partners is complex and rapidly changing. We know the uncertainty brings angst, but know that we are actively working to ensure our community is safe and healthy—and we will provide you with reliable information as it becomes available. We appreciate your patience and encourage you to seek out information and guidance from faculty, department chairs, and managers. In the meantime, what hasn’t changed is that we must continue to take personal responsibility for maintaining good public health measures—handwashing, social distancing, and mask-wearing—to keep our community healthy and safe.

Whether you’re living, working, or learning on campus or off campus, though, this semester brings with it much excitement, starting with the extension of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The city and state are still limiting in-person events; however, there are many online events coming up that celebrate, elevate, and advocate for nurses and midwives and the critical role we play in promoting health. Keep an eye on the Penn Nursing calendar, but a few upcoming highlights are the Fagin Lecture on April 15 and the Nursing Story Slam—one of my favorite events of the year—on February 17.

In addition to welcoming you to the spring semester, I’d also like to welcome Brandon Lodriguss, Penn Nursing’s new CIO and Executive Director of Facilities Planning, and congratulate our faculty who have been appointed to leadership positions: Nancy A. Hodgson, PhD, RN, FAAN, the new chair of Penn Nursing’s Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences; Lisa M. Lewis, PhD, RN, FAAN, Calvin Bland Fellow, Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion; and Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, FAAN, Director, Center for Health Outcomes & Policy Research.

This new year, 2021, promises to be a year to remember for so many reasons, and I am hopeful for the many things we will accomplish together. So again, welcome back—take care of yourselves and each other as we move ahead.