December 9, 2020
With the end of the fall semester upon us, I wanted to check in and wish you my very best as you prepare for finals and complete papers. This time of year, I always recall my own experiences taking finals over nine years as an undergraduate and graduate student—the procrastination followed by stress and cramming, and then the cathartic feeling once it was all over. Then, as a professor, I worried about writing the exam. I can tell you that as far as finals go, it is better to give than receive! All that said, I can safely say that this has been the strangest semester at UT (among my 50 or so semesters here) since … well, since the spring semester—but other than that, none comes close!
As you know, everyone at the university has worked incredibly hard to make the semester as safe and successful as possible. That includes you. Professor Art Markman, our colleague who has been instrumental in our COVID-19 planning, recently told the press, “The decision to open a university campus this fall was a bet on the students.” It was a bet made because we believe in you. And you proved us right. You masked up, social distanced, stayed patient—and made lemonade out of a giant pile of 2020 lemons. Thank you for the solidarity and responsibility you have shown!
As you prepare for finals during the next week or so, remember the university is here to support you. If you don’t feel well, reach out to University Health Services. If you feel stressed, the Counseling and Mental Health Center is here for you. And, as always, Student Emergency Services can connect you with resources related to housing, academics and finances. You should also reach out to your family and friends for advice and reassurance: Remember, you’re not alone—you’re a Longhorn, and one of the greatest things about being here is the ability to rely on each other. Those feelings of anxiety and expectation you experience during finals are common—we’ve all felt them—so remember to support and lean on one another.
Finals also mean that the winter break is around the corner. I hope you all have a meaningful, joyous—and of course, safe—holiday season. Get some rest—you’ve earned it! I look forward to seeing you in the spring, which as you know, will look much like the fall—at least at first. In the meantime, finish well and don’t neglect the basics: sleep, hydrate, eat well and take breaks. When it comes to your remaining papers and exams, my bet is that you’ll work hard and do well. I’m always happy to bet on you!
Good luck, and Hook ‘em,