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Message from the President: Signs of Spring

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This message was distributed to UPEI students, faculty, and staff on April 9, 2020 to their emails. While we will continue to update our COVID-19 website, the latest news will be first shared with the UPEI community by email and notifications will be sent by UPEI SAFE, the University’s safety app (available on The App Store and Google Play).

Dear Members of the University Community,

As I look out the window from my home office, I am excited by the signs of spring, rebirth, and renewal that are evident. While we may not be able to enjoy the new season with our peers, colleagues, friends, and family exactly as we have done in the past, it is encouraging to see how so many in our UPEI community are being creative as they practice physical distancing and staying at home, all while continuing to teach and learn.

A true sign of spring at UPEI is when we reach the last day of classes and the exam period begins. I wish all of our students the very best as they complete the semester and thank our faculty and staff for their commitment. I understand the pressure everyone is feeling, and I want you to always remember that you are not alone, UPEI is here for you. Our faculty and staff are standing behind you, cheering you on as you fulfil your potential. I am grateful that they are so dedicated in supporting you on your pathway to success whether you are an undergraduate student writing an exam or a graduate student defending your thesis.

During this COVID-19 situation, the resiliency of our students has been an ongoing good news story for our University. In the Faculty of Graduate Studies, there have been six graduate students (two from Veterinary Medicine, two from Nursing, and two from Education) who have successfully defended their theses since we began working remotely. All were given the option of postponing their presentations, but Dr. Larry Hammell, UPEI’s interim Dean of Graduate Studies, tells me that most wanted to proceed since their defences had been months in the making. The virtual defences have had anywhere from 25-48 people in attendance; in some cases, more attended the presentations than if they had been held in-person.

I am so very proud of how hard everyone has been working during these unprecedented times, turning daunting challenges into new ways forward. The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult and we continue to face an overwhelming tidal wave of bad news about COVID-19. However, just as spring and the celebrations of Easter and Passover represent rebirth and renewal amidst suffering and sacrifice, let us choose to find ripples of hope and inspiration. We do not have to look far to see how members of our UPEI and Island community have become the best versions of themselves during this pandemic crisis. And, we are part of an even larger global community that believes a better world is possible.

As we enter the holiday weekend, I encourage everyone to celebrate the signs of spring and the good in humanity. Please take a break from studying and working to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. Continue to be safe by following the directives of our PEI Chief Public Health Officer, and look after yourself and your loved ones by connecting with them online and by phone. My sincere wish is that everyone enjoys lots of “virtual” time with each other.

Again, I thank each and every one of you for your contributions toward building a stronger and even more connected UPEI community.

Best wishes,


Dr. Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Prince Edward Island

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Nicole Phillips
Director of Communications
Marketing and Communications

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