University of Minnesota Alumni Association


Editor's Note

When the World Comes Undone

Photo Credit: Scott Streble

In the face of extraordinary times, all of us struggle. We try to find a way to name—and tame—the myriad emotions that engulf us, and desperately look for reassurance, hope, and a way to process the unprecedented.

 In the span of less than three months, the ground has shifted beneath our feet in a deeply unnerving way. The novel coronavirus and the still-mysterious disease it causes, COVID-19, have burst into our lives. Millions of Americans are scared, unemployed, and increasingly desperate, and millions more across the globe are facing economic and personal despair. 

When the world as we’ve always known it ceases to be—at least temporarily—to whom do we turn? 

To borrow a sentiment from the always calm, beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers—Mr. Rogers, if you will—in times of trouble, look for the helpers. And in this case, many of those helpers have been found at our own University of Minnesota.

While COVID-19 has thrown a merciless wrench into daily life for all of us, the response from the U of M has been extraordinary in its own respect.

Experts at the U of M have leapt into action in response to the onslaught. When ventilators were a crushing issue, our researchers found ways to build them quickly, cheaply, and out of easily sourced parts. When a lack of reliable testing for COVID-19 threatened to delay or even deny our ability to return to any semblance of normal, researchers at the U of M, the Mayo Clinic, and the Minnesota Department of Health pushed through new tests at a rate exponentially above what previously had been possible. When healthcare workers on the front line needed help to continue their almost insurmountable task, students from the medical school made themselves available for childcare, errands, and whatever else those brave individuals needed.

The list goes on and on. 

For some, the reality of having a major research university in our own backyard isn’t top of mind in normal days. These people may drive through campus or hear about research coming out of the school in a piecemeal fashion, but those accomplishments tend to get drowned out in the more pressing business of daily life. 

For my part, in times of trouble, I want the best minds available working on a problem, and in this case, they are. The expertise available through the U of M—deployed in this instance to help all of us—has been humbling, and it’s left me deeply #UMNProud.

Until next time, may you and yours stay well and safe, and be comforted by the fact that many brilliant individuals at the University are collectively working on our behalf. 

We’ll get through this together.

 Kelly O’Hara Dyer can be reached at

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