January 15, 2021

Dear Students,

We are a few days into the semester, and already the energy and optimism are high! I love walking around campus and seeing more of your faces with your eyes smiling above your masks.

Campus events and opportunities are in full swing with activities happening almost daily. If you are looking for something to do or a way to get involved, please visit our events calendar on the Virtual Student Union.

Yesterday was a historic day for UF, as we officially celebrated the opening of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden on the North Lawn. This space recognizes the nine historically Black sororities and fraternities, known as the Divine Nine, for their contributions and honors their legacies for generations to come.

As you look toward the long weekend, I encourage you to find time to give back to the community. This Monday marks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. It is heralded as a “day on, not a day off” in celebration of Dr. King’s life-long legacy of service.

Service may look a little different this year as COVID safety protocols are in place, but there are numerous opportunities to volunteer and spread kindness. So far, more than 200 students have already signed up for MLK Day of Service hosted by the Brown Center for Leadership and Service. If you are looking for an opportunity to serve in our local community, the Gators Volunteer website is another great place to start. This spring, UF will be launching an initiative to encourage students, faculty and staff to share their time by getting out into the community and finding volunteer opportunities. The MLK Day of Service is the first in a series of service events coming this spring.

Volunteering serves as a valuable reminder that our actions have a profound impact, and together, with curiosity and hard work, we are unstoppable change agents. I find a personal reminder of the power in ourselves and in our community when I listen to UF’s Unstoppable Minds podcast. The latest episode, launched this week, features first-generation college student and former linebacker for the Florida Gators, Hygens Succes. His unique story and passion for giving back to his hometown of Belle Glade, Fla. is absolutely inspiring. Please give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Finally, I want to say another big thank you to all our students who are watching their emails and scheduling their COVID tests. As of Thursday afternoon, UF Health’s Screen, Test & Protect had performed more than 27,000 COVID-19 tests since Jan. 3. Of the 17,308 people tested in the prior seven days, the COVID-19 positivity rate was 1.5% which is proof that our individual and collective efforts make a difference in flattening the curve. I am truly grateful, Gators, for your dedication to upholding healthy behaviors including wearing a mask and physical distancing and completing your tests. Your support and effort is essential in keeping our community healthy.

I hope you all have a wonderful and restful weekend.

Be safe, be well, and as always – Go Gators!
Dr. D’Andra Mull
Vice President for Student Affairs

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