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Welcome Back for the Spring Semester

Dear Emersonians,

Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a revitalizing winter break. If you haven’t already watched our holiday video, inspired by a terrific idea by Cate Foy ‘24, I hope you’ll take a moment to see this example of our students bringing their vision to life. Emersonians are known for creativity, and I was thrilled to see alumni Christopher Battaglia ’14, Matt Benson ’18, and John Frink ’85, recently honored at the 2023 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and Jennifer Coolidge ‘85 and Randy Barbato ’82 received Prime Time Emmy Awards last night. 

As the Spring 2024 semester starts, I look forward to working with our creative and passionate students, staff, faculty, and alumni on several significant projects. First and foremost, we will work together to develop Emerson’s next Strategic Plan and update our shared mission, vision, values, and priorities. There will be many opportunities for all community members to offer their perspectives and hopes for the future direction of the College, and I sincerely hope you will participate. Please see our Strategic Planning website for more information and to start sharing your ideas. 

This semester, we will select several new campus leaders, including the Provost, two Deans, and several Vice Presidents, to join our team of talented leaders and help guide us into the future. We will hold our official Emerson “Teach-Ins” on Race on Feb. 7-8 and Sustainability on March 4. Emersonians will come together to “Celebrate Emerson” and the Presidential Inauguration with numerous events, panels, and performances from March 20-22. The College will also share data from our Emerson360 Community Survey, and we will continue our efforts to understand and leverage Artificial Intelligence through our AI Presidential Working Group and our new AI Interest Group, which will start hosting educational sessions. Plus, there will be many performances and athletic events to enjoy, along with countless other Emerson programs and activities. 

Yesterday, when the College observed the holiday to remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King from Strength to Love (1963), “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” As our semester starts, let us remember his inspiring words and keep them in our hearts and minds during this time of continued conflict around the world. 

In this spirit, I’d also like to call your attention to an important update on free expression and threatening rhetoric on our campuses. Please read the statement here.

The Spring 2024 semester will be a busy and exciting time for all of us, with many activities and opportunities to come together as a community. I sincerely hope that the Emersonian spirit of caring and compassion comes through to help us celebrate our shared values and commitment to communication, the arts, and the liberal arts as a means for improving and repairing the world. 

I hope you have a great semester, and I look forward to seeing you in Boston, Los Angeles, the Netherlands, and beyond. 


Jay M. Bernhardt

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