University Health Services Biennial Report 2020-21

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

A note from University Health Services' Executive Director, John Kolligian:

Welcome

I’m pleased to present the 2020-21 Biennial Report of University Health Services. This report reviews the exceptional work being done at UHS. It includes overviews of most service areas, selections of our initiatives and accomplishments, and a sketch of the strategic underpinnings of our current work and future direction.

COVID-19

The period covered in this report coincides with a worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It has not been business as usual. The pandemic has taken or forever changed millions of lives. It has dramatically affected the conduct of many industries and the people who serve in them, including higher education and health care, fields that coalesce in the work of UHS and our partners. UHS has stood strong in the face of the pandemic and the upheaval it brought. And as humbling as the pandemic has been, individuals, teams, departments, and institutions have reinvented themselves to light a path forward. At Princeton, the pandemic has been accompanied by an unprecedented level of meaningful and productive collaborations across offices and disciplines, inspired work that is evident and active as I write this letter.

We are proud of how the University has adapted and even progressed. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni have largely demonstrated common goals, resilience, and resolve in this time of protracted crisis. Colleagues in all areas rose to meet each challenge of the pandemic in ways that ensured our educational mission would be fulfilled while also safeguarding the health and safety of our community.

Discovery

A crisis like this pandemic can function as a tool of discovery.

We learn something about character when people, groups, systems, and institutions are under great stress. Bearing the weight and unrelenting pressure of terrible times, prevarication fails; what is real and authentic prevails. This pandemic has uncovered and is still revealing much to us about ourselves, our institutions, our communities, and the fragility of the bonds that connect and polarize us. We must learn from these discoveries, even though some are troubling and hard to understand. There is certainly nothing good about this crisis, or about the slower-motion crises (e.g., rising student mental health concerns, and widening health and other inequities creating barriers to student success) that have elevated our concern about students’ well-being and increased worry about the future of higher education. Yet amidst these discoveries, we found new ways to be together, to collaborate, and to grow. When each of us found ourselves in an unmapped future, we adapted course, again and again.

Strategy Forward

Higher education needs a long-term post-pandemic strategy. This is not an argument for a “new normal” — the term often used carelessly to suggest that we must all accommodate to certain changes that we and our students (and employees) might find inconvenient or challenging in some way. Rather, it is an argument for a much longer-term, more strategic view. We can be open to reflection about not just what happened, but why, and how things might have been different and can be different in the future. As we attempt to assess the present and imagine that future, there are pressing questions: What has the pandemic and its consequences uncovered about higher education? And will we elevate our vision of equity and address and resolve key questions about race and privilege, establishing the trust and confidence of those who are historically marginalized and silenced? University leadership has indicated that Princeton must come to terms with its past to preserve its place in the future, and this includes grappling with and acting on such questions, wherever they may lead. This is a critical University strategy, now and into the future.

Part of UHS’ vigilance has been to keep strategy and future planning firmly on the table. Building on previous planning efforts, you will find a modified organization-wide strategic planning initiative (Strategic Initiative, version 3.1 or “SI v3.1”). Its initial plan (Strategic Initiative, version 3.0 or “SI v3.0”) has been re-envisioned through the lens of the pandemic and the national racial unrest, with an understanding that infectious disease outbreaks and systemic racism are not momentary challenges: Without attention, they will be parts of our future as well. And we discount their perdurability at our own peril.

The world we live in now is different than it was when many students first arrived at Princeton, and it will change much more in the years ahead. For our students, the world that lies ahead will demand much of them and what they have learned inside and outside of classrooms. And for those who work in UHS, well, educators and clinicians are resilient people — if nothing else, intrepid. Even in the midst of our fatigue and frustration, the sadness we feel for the students who, despite being our purpose, suffered through diminished experiences, and the wrenching uncertainties that define these times, we look ahead and try to emerge stronger to face whatever the future holds. In this report, I take pleasure in spotlighting the work, challenges, and accomplishments of the special people who serve in UHS and the many dimensions of care they provide to our University in a tumultuous time.