University of Minnesota Alumni Association


Editor's Note

A New Way Forward

Photo Credit: Scott Streble

As Minnesota begins its slow reentry into what we had hoped might be a definitively post-pandemic period, Covid-19 isn’t done with us yet.

Although full vaccinations do provide extensive protection against hospitalization and death, as highly contagious delta variant cases surge across the country and the world, all of us are making new accommodations to cope with this baffling and crafty disease.

Is the pandemic over? Certainly not. But in this newest stage, we are finding ways to go about our daily lives. At the University of Minnesota, the doors are once again open to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Plans are in place for a more recognizable fall semester, buoyed by the excitement of welcoming what may be the largest freshman class in nearly 50 years.

On July 28, President Joan Gabel sent a note to students, faculty, and staff about preparing for the return to school, 500 days after the University transitioned to remote work and online learning. She wrote, “The pandemic has challenged us … but we have risen to that challenge in our work and as a community. As we take another step forward towards the fall, we are that much closer to this chapter becoming part of our history—but we also understand and appreciate that there is still work to do and that we must remain vigilant.”

Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that masks were no longer required for vaccinated individuals. But as an example of how quickly this situation continues to evolve, by August 2, after new CDC guidance, President Gabel sent an updated note: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the University has closely monitored national, state, and local guidance on public health and safety precautions. We continue to do so, especially as Covid-19 transmission rates fluctuate.” She noted that as of August 3, the University now requires mask use indoors, but that masks remain optional in outdoor settings. “We are committed to protecting the health of our community, and to adjusting as new information and circumstances dictate,” Gabel wrote.

Public health authorities assure us that masks offer protection as a simple-to-use tool to combat the spread of the coronavirus and its evolving variants. Masking up—and a renewed push for the unvaccinated to “Get the Vax”—remain the most important parts of our society’s collective attempt to ease back into a new normal.

In this issue, we look at how we’re all adjusting to this confusing time. We speak with alumni entrepreneurs about doing business during the ebbs and flows of a pandemic. We outline University plans to welcome alumni back to campus for the cultural, educational, and entertainment events that make the U of M so special. And we even take a moment to smile at how Gophers continue to make us proud, as they did at this summer’s philosophical Great American Think-Off.

Although the pandemic isn’t over, it is now possible to say, “We’re back.”

Kelly O’Hara Dyer can be reached at

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