Rector message - the beginning of the academic year 2020-2021
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Rector message - the beginning of the academic year 2020-2021

Rector message - the beginning of the academic year 2020-2021​​

Dear colleagues, fellow professors,
Dear colleagues, fellow students,
Dear colleagues, members of the administrative staff,

I have been thinking a lot about how to address you at the beginning of this academic year. How can I put into words the gratitude I feel for your strength and enthusiasm shown so far? There has been a huge effort made by everyone to continue providing learning and teaching in these unprecedented circumstances. What can be said at a time like this, outside of the Aula, to keep all of us motivated?

One week ago, we participated in the 2020 Graduation Ceremony, which took place in an atypical manner. And, although the pandemic introduced a lot of restrictions and we had to give up some of our traditions, the Hippocratic Oath was uplifting and full of hope. I am very proud of the University's 1700 graduates! Not only because they have reached the end of a difficult but beautiful academic journey, but also because they went through a complicated academic year and adapted so well to the challenges brought by the epidemiological situation. I imagine that it was difficult for our graduates to be without friends and family, but we made sure that they enjoyed this festive moment by watching, live, the broadcast of the whole ceremony.

Yesterday was the last day of another traditional event held here at the University - Orientation Days, a program designed to orient and welcome first year students. Due to the pandemic, our customary guided tours were not an option anymore. We had to rapidly adjust to the situation and we came up with something special for the freshmen: they were able to visit the University virtually, through some videos made especially for them. We even enlisted assistance from their older colleagues to provide guidance and advice.

The successful unfolding of these two recent events has proven our ability to put the safety of our community above our desire to be physically together. The coronavirus has changed the way we work and learn, but all the protective measures have helped us appreciate the community in new ways. Of course, everyone wishes to return to a normal life, a life in which we can greet each other without any fear or spend more time together. I wish I knew when the pandemic will end. But what I do know is that all members of our academic community will do whatever it takes to make the environment we all share safe.

Although COVID-19 continues to be a source of concern both nationally and globally, we are ready to start the new academic year. We are still guided by the principles shared with you through the messages sent over the past few months, and we are constantly making the health and safety of the students, faculty members and administrative staff our priority.

Like many other aspects of our present lives, this academic year will be different. It will not be the reunion we are used to; we will not be able to hug or shake hands. We will not be allowed to gather in large numbers in all our favorite spaces. We are required to constantly wear a mask and maintain social distance. But compared to losing a year of opportunity in advancing our mission of education and research, finding a way to continue in this environment is only part of what defines our University and its community. As leader of the community, the University continues to play an important part in lessening the impact of Covid-19. I would like this responsibility to extend to all of us- students, teachers and administrative staff. We must acknowledge that the world has changed and we must change with it.

I want re-emphasize the fact medical higher education distinguishes itself from other forms of higher education. The specifics of our profession and the training in the field of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or medical bioengineering cannot be feasible through distance learning. Practical training cannot be held in an online, computer-based setting. This scenario makes it impossible for students to develop their clinical reasoning, critical reflection and decision making, formulation of a diagnosis and therapeutic principles. All these skills cannot be acquired through the computer.

The 2020-2021 academic year will be difficult as well and will require adaptability and flexibility in response to the ever-changing landscape. Whilst we cannot say with certainty what will happen in the near future, there are reasonable steps we can take now to give us the best chance of delivering our unique UMF Iasi experience to all our students. We have come up with a plan of measures that will allow us to stay safe. Teaching activities will take place in the University's learning spaces and in those available in the clinical hospitals, in a hybrid manner, combining online with onsite activities. We have adopted a series of classroom procedures and protocols that do not affect the quality of teaching but provide a high degree of safety to the learning process. Please access and study carefully this set of measures available on the University's website.

If everyone follows a few basic rules, which are essentially about properly wearing a protective mask, keeping your distance, health and hand hygiene and disinfecting commonly used items, then the risk of infection is low. By staying informed about the situation and following the recommendations, we can protect our own wellbeing and those around us.

We are about to start this new challenging academic year. What we are doing is relevant, but the way we are doing it will matter the most.​

Professor Viorel Scripcariu,