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Dear Olin community, 

As we embark on another academic year, I am struck by how different this August is from last. The sights and sounds that more typically mark the beginning of the start of classes are all around campus this year.

Hard as it is to believe, this is our third academic year with COVID. Even though the presence of COVID is not as challenging as it was before vaccinations, we now have the worrisome Delta variant to contend with. Our plans are based on guidance from public health officials and what we learned from successfully bringing students back to campus last year. We will again prioritize the health and safety of our staff, faculty and students as we offer a fully in-person educational experience. It is heartening to know that during the pandemic we have shown ourselves as a community that cares for one another while remaining committed to teaching and learning through trying times.

While this past year has taken a toll, the Olin community has shown a resiliency built over time. Our return to campus will be informed by, and built on what we have learned over the past 18 months. This includes the valuable lesson that we can be successful with a more flexible approach to remote work.

As we come back together as a community, I am reminded that the initial years of Olin were also a time of challenge and uncertainty for the faculty, staff, and students too. The College was launched as both a high-performing academic institution and as a cause to revolutionize engineering education.  But in creating Olin, there was no manual to follow.  Only the intelligence, determination, and shared values of a community of like-minded people coming together to realize a vision.   

Now we come together once more, to pursue a new strategic vision for the College, one centered around advancing equity within and through engineering education. We will be changing systems, breaking barriers, and building opportunities for all who want to learn engineering, be engineers, and use these skills to contribute to their communities—and the world.

Fulfilling this vision will present us with challenges at times, just as we have faced the challenges of the pandemic.  But engineers embrace challenges.  And we know how to design, test, and create our way to solutions. I have no doubt that we will succeed.

I hope you will join me in greeting this new academic year with joy and gratitude for our special community.

Nothing demonstrates how special our community is than meeting a new class of students. Please spare a moment and watch this short video and get to know the Class of 2025 in their own words.

I know we will continue to support one another, and Olin’s mission, in the year ahead.

Be well, be safe, and welcome back.

Sincerely,

Gilda Barabino