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Message from the Chancellor

This has been a year like no other.chancellor-DSC_2400_cr.jpg

When our 2020 fiscal year began last July 2019, our first-year medical students were just weeks away from starting the admissions process. Dates for annual events such as Match Day, Reunion and Commencement were circled in red on our calendars. Planning for two of our signature fundraising events—the 21st UMass Cancer Walk and Run and the 11th annual Winter Ball—were well underway. Philanthropic support for scholarships, financial aid, endowed funds and several high-profile research initiatives was helping to catapult UMass Medical School toward new heights.

Then, in what seemed like an instant, the SARS-CoV-2 virus developed into a global pandemic that upended our daily lives. Our learners and faculty shifted to remote learning; our research teams, except for those engaged in essential coronavirus research, ramped down; and our clinical partners and teaching sites mobilized for a surge in COVID-19 patients. The unthinkable became the new reality for all of us.

Match Day and Commencement ceremonies moved to virtual formats and, unfortunately, Reunion 2020 was canceled. Remote working, learning and socializing—as well as mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing—became the norm. The commonwealth emerged as one of the nation’s hot spots for cases, then quickly adapted to serve as a model for disease management and prevention.

We now are well into a new fiscal year. As I reflect on last year, I see just how far we have come and how much we have learned. I recognize how fortunate we have been to navigate through a period of immense challenges, disruptions and uncertainty by being supportive, collaborative, innovative and productive. It is particularly heartening to have observed and felt the steadfast support of all of you—our treasured donors—who have stayed by our side throughout the tumult of the last several months. Despite the tremendous challenges brought forth by the pandemic, you have stood with us to establish endowed chairs, to support and sustain numerous scientific initiatives such as our neuroscience, cancer and COVID-19/pandemic research efforts, and to invest in our students and their futures. Because of your partnership, the state of the state’s great public medical school is strong and vibrant.

We must continue to deal with much uncertainty. While Massachusetts has managed well during these challenging times, we cannot accurately forecast the virus’ full impact on the physical, mental and financial health of our local and global communities. I am confident, however, that because of partners like you, our medical school will come through this stronger than ever and will be poised to help other entities do the same.

Please know how grateful we are for your confidence in our mission and work.

With much appreciation on behalf of UMass Medical School,

Michael F. Collins, MD, FACP
Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Medical School