Lessons from a public health crisis
So here we are in November 2021. As this issue of University Affairs goes to print, we are now close to 20 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. From those first days in March 2020 as we hunkered down at our makeshift home offices, through the cautious optimism of the first summer, the brutal second and third waves, and now with the Delta variant stubbornly persisting despite our comparatively high vaccination numbers, universities have had to twist and turn to fulfill their mission of teaching and learning, research and community service.
And through it all, University Affairs has been adapting with the community – bringing you the latest news, opinions, career advice and job ads. We have seen an increase in readership – particularly when it comes to content related to the pandemic. Our COVID-19 updates became our most read pages for both our Anglophone and Francophone readers, bringing in tens of thousands of pageviews a week.
At Universities Canada, the publisher of UA, the focus throughout the pandemic has been on supporting our 96 member institutions. The switch to virtual meetings helped enable this support. We were able to go from holding a handful of membership meetings during the year, to having more than 65 in 2020-21. This engagement was vital for the community as it navigated the pandemic.
More broadly, there was a growing recognition among Canadians that COVID-19 was laying bare structural inequalities. And they responded. Our scholarships team saw an increase in the number of programs that support those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including Black students, Indigenous students and students living with disabilities.
There is no doubt it has been a difficult 20 months, but the resilience, innovation and empathy that has helped us weather the pandemic should serve us all well as we look forward to the recovery.