Reflections on the department’s progress over a year of pandemic challenges
The past academic year has been marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, our department – as with the rest of the University of Toronto – was not spared the extensive disruption it has caused to the way of life across the globe.
It was certainly a challenging year: students, faculty and staff shared in the difficulties of moving the entirety of the University operations online. While many aspects of the transition were successful, some were less so, and there is no denying that it has been a stressful time for our students and taxing for our faculty and staff. Completely changing how we teach, learn and interact was no easy task, yet we did it! I want to take this opportunity to give my heartfelt thanks to you all for the incredible amount of work everybody put in to get through this arduous academic year.
As this newsletter demonstrates, even the pandemic could not impede the accomplishments of our faculty and students. You can read about frontier research providing insights into how to assist students struggling during the pandemic, or how the economics discipline continues to expand the rich set of quantitative tools for economic analysis by quickly adopting newly developed machine learning techniques. These are just a couple of examples of the innovative research for which our faculty is renowned. We are also reminded of some of the awards our faculty and students are recognized with every year, as well as the continuing achievements of our alumni. This year, the newsletter also remembers and honours the lifelong contributions to the department of three professors emeriti who are, sadly, no longer with us: Richard Bird, Don Moggridge and Jim Pesando. And, of course, we welcome to the department the next generation of young scholars and teachers.
While some uncertainty remains and we will surely face more challenges ahead, thanks to the availability of vaccines and other public health measures we can approach the coming year with renewed optimism. It may be a gradual transition, but I am hopeful that this year will bring us closer to our normal operations. The entire University community is eager to reconnect with one other in person, and return to the vibrant academic life that we have all missed so much. I want to conclude by thanking one more time the faculty and staff of the department for their support, and I am looking forward to working with everyone again in the year ahead.