Director’s Letter

5/21/17 - Boston, Massachusetts Carrie Preston, Director of Kilachand Honors College walking towards the stage at the start of the 2017 Boston University Commencement on Nickerson Field on May 21, 2017. Photo by Doug Levy for Boston University Photography

The COVID-19 pandemic upended many aspects of our lives and certainly changed the way we learned, taught, and interacted with our communities at Kilachand Honors College, Boston University, and beyond. The Kilachand team has sought to provide a community of care during this time; we regularly acknowledge our collective and individual trauma in our communications, virtual meetings, and Zoom events. We have worked with faculty to ensure that our students who are taking classes from their dorm rooms or other spaces across the world feel supported in their learning. We have organized events and discussions that help students process and navigate the pandemic world. We recognize that the pandemic has been particularly challenging for college students, as they are forced to make difficult and often constrained choices about their health and opportunities at a time that is usually marked by great personal and intellectual exploration.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been astonished by the resilience, ingenuity, and care of our students: They reimagined their Keystone Projects in brilliant ways, they turned community-wide social events into small walking tours, their academic performance remained stunning, and they often supported their faculty with good-humored advice: “You’re on mute again, Professor.” “You need to stop screen share and reshare the new document.” And so on. And thank you!

I hope we hold some lessons of the pandemic close. We saw that while all suffered through the pandemic, our struggles were differentiated by privileges of class, race, gender, and other categories shaped by historical and ongoing oppression. If the pandemic has taught us one lesson to remember, it is that our health, our ability to flourish, and our vulnerabilities are all intertwined regardless of our differences. I believe that diversity need not divide us but will be a source of insight, creativity, and effectiveness if we commit ourselves to engaging affirmatively across social, cultural, and philosophical differences. Kilachand’s living-learning community has developed even more resolve to pursue this crucial work.

The vaccine will be widely available soon, and the end of this phase of the pandemic is in sight, but it is also clear that we will face tremendous challenges and opportunities as students, scholars, and global citizens to reimagine and build a post-pandemic world, a better world. We all have a role in this work, and we will need to deploy the best tools of all the disciplines, the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the applied knowledge of the professional schools. Kilachand and other programs focused on liberal education and the integration of the various spheres of knowledge are more vital than ever. I am regularly inspired and challenged by Kilachand students and eager to help them build the world that will enable us all to thrive.

 

Carrie J. Preston
Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor
Director, Kilachand Honors College