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Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Dec 18
Tags: community, all updates

The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine brings hope …

This past weekend doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Canada, and on Monday the first were administered in Ontario and Quebec. Here in Saskatchewan, vaccination of front-line health care workers as well as staff and residents of long-term care homes began on Tuesday evening.

With supplies of the Pfizer vaccine limited and additional vaccines as yet unapproved, it will be some time before all who wish to get the vaccine will have access to it. But as we near the end of a dark and uncertain year, the rollout of the vaccine brings new hope for all of us for 2021 – and will have an immediate impact on the lives of those most at risk from COVID-19.

I’m pleased to say that the University of Regina has offered to play a key role in distribution of the Pfizer vaccine. The vaccine requires storage temperatures between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius. There are relatively few Saskatchewan sites that can provide these temperatures. Our Faculty of Science’s ultra-cold storage facilities are one of them, so the University is working with the Ministry of Health to be one of the nodes from which the Pfizer vaccine is delivered to the people of the province.

This is yet another example of the many ways we strive to serve the communities that surround and support us.

… but the threat of COVID-19 remains with us

With a vaccine now slowly becoming available, we nonetheless must not let down our guard. COVID-19 remains a potent threat - on and off campus.

Patrick Bernat, a clinical exercise physiologist in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, has recently recovered from COVID-19. He has been kind enough to share his story, which brings home how a young, healthy person can be hit hard by this disease, and experience lingering aftereffects. Because any of us could have an experience like Patrick’s, we must continue strict protocols to limit the spread of the virus.

Patrick, we’re glad to see you back. Thank you for sharing your experience with the readers of this message.

SPHERU celebrates 20 years of health research

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected our lives in 2020. But in the midst of the largest global health crisis in a century, we should not lose sight of the tremendous health research that over the past 20 years has taken place through the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU).

A research collaboration between the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan, SPHERU recently celebrated 20 years of working to address health discrepancies and improve overall health for Saskatchewan people. To mark this occasion and promote its continuing work, SPHERU has launched a 20th anniversary website that I encourage everyone to visit.

In coming months as Saskatchewan slowly emerges from the pandemic, SPHERU’s research will be more important than ever to the long-term health of residents.

Congratulations to all associated with SPHERU at both universities – and thank you for your work!

Season’s greetings – and a sincere thank you

I would venture to say that, for many of us, this year of pandemic can't end quickly enough. Looking back at all that has transpired since mid-March, I sometimes wonder how we have navigated through it.

The answer is that we have done so as a community. With most teaching, learning, and other work taking place remotely, we have endured separation from colleagues and friends. This has been challenging, but through countless individual acts of thoughtfulness and kindness and a tremendous collective effort, we have overcome these obstacles together.

Students have been patient and remain engaged with their studies. Instructors continue working to create the best possible learning experience. Researchers and creators have adapted as needed to continue their work. Staff have provided myriad supports to the academic mission. And alumni and friends of the University, as well as members of the wider community, have been unwavering in their support.

Though it's not possible for me to thank all of you in person, I hope this short video conveys my appreciation and best wishes for the holiday season.

Many of us want to offer thanks and holiday greetings to friends and colleagues we'd normally see at this time of year. Recognizing this, University Advancement & Communications has created a Virtual Holiday Message Board to help Faculties, departments, and units share the spirit of the season with others at our University. It will be online until 31 December, so I encourage you to view the creative messages – which include videos, poems, and songs - before then.

In the meantime, thank you again for your efforts in an extraordinarily challenging year. I wish you and your families all the best in 2021.

Sincerely,

Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor