Hard work and adaptation keys to UNM’s 2020 success

Mar 15, 2021 | Spring 2021, UNM President’s Letter

As I write this in late December 2020, the first doses of a vaccine for COVID-19 are being administered to our front-line health care providers at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center who have been working tirelessly and fearlessly. I’m in awe of their dedication, and so grateful for their skill and compassion. To all of them, and all of our alumni on the front lines of the pandemic: thank you. We’re proud to be your fellow Lobos.

I also want to applaud a different kind of front-line worker vital to our core mission at UNM: our faculty, who quickly and deftly pivoted to life under lockdown. Whether they were teaching chemistry or Kafka, our faculty masterfully adapted to a new normal of remote instruction and squint-sized Zoom windows. That also meant holding virtual office hours and conducting research remotely, while still juggling family life from the dining room table. While nothing compares to face-to-face instruction, our faculty have also proved that nothing gets in the way of a great teacher.

Meanwhile, our dedicated staff continued the work that kept The University of New Mexico open for business, from our fantastic custodial staff to our masterful librarians and laboratory workers. Many employees, in fact, were on campus every day, keeping our most vital functions safely operating even at the height of the pandemic. To our faculty and our staff, I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for all of you.

And let’s hear it for the unsung heroes of 2020: each and every one of our students. They’ve had their lives as Lobos unexpectedly and permanently altered. And while we can empathize with all they’ve been through, I don’t think we truly appreciate how much they’ve sacrificed, even as they’ve succeeded beyond expectations. As our alumni know, part of college life is the college experience — the socializing, gatherings and rites of passage that shape us as alumni, and as human beings, for the rest of our lives. Our students were denied a year of these experiences — and while we did our best to virtually celebrate formative occasions like graduation or homecoming, we also know it’s just not the same.

Obviously, I’m so incredibly proud of our healthcare workers, faculty, staff and students. They deserve not only our thanks for all they’ve done in a remarkable year, but also our respect and admiration. What they have done has been unprecedented, and they did it all with patience, grace and no small amount of good humor.

In short, thank for you everything, Lobos. Here’s to better days ahead in 2021.


Garnett S. Stokes
President, The University of New Mexico


President Garnett S. Stokes

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