On Sept. 2, President Ángel Cabrera gave his annual institute address where he highlighted Tech’s achievements over the past year and items to look forward to in the coming months.
Cabrera delivered his address in person in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons and streamed the event on YouTube. In addition to a masked audience, Cabrera spoke to over 750 viewers who streamed the event.
After a brief introduction by Renee Kopkowski, Vice President of Institute Communications, Cabrera started his speech by discussing the previous and current impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on campus.
“We are still in the middle of a difficult and long public health crisis that will continue to test us in countless ways,” Cabrera said. He reported that many on campus had voiced their concerns about safety as well as the challenges that the pandemic has continued to bring.
He went on to describe a more positive side of the situation — the way in which the community came together. “We are in this together, and, like we did last year, we will navigate successfully through this together.”
He listed many ways that students, faculty and staff were able to come together to control the pandemic on campus, including transitioning to virtual learning, participating in surveillance testing and administering vaccines to nearly all members of the Tech community. “We learned that a community challenge like this can only be fought successfully by a community coming together,” he said.
Cabrera addressed the changes in COVID-19 policy this year and the resentment that they have generated.
The University System of Georgia has implemented policies and rules that look much different from the previous school year. For example, mask-wearing is no longer enforced on campus, classrooms are not socially distanced, and most classes are required to be taught in person.
“I realize many would prefer different policies at the state level. I appreciate all that feedback, and I assure you that I am in constant communication with state decision-makers. Our colleagues in the System office and the mem- bers of the board are fully aware of our circumstances. We will continue to work with them to convey data from Georgia Tech and propose ideas.”
Cabrera then urged everyone to use widely available COVID-19 safety resources — all of which are offered by Tech — to keep everyone on campus as safe as possible.
The measures he described included vaccination, wearing masks when inside campus buildings, utilizing surveillance testing each week, reporting symptoms and positive tests to contact tracing and quarantining when necessary.
In particular, Cabrera praised the research and coordination that went into Tech’s surveillance testing program, which was a staple of controlling the spread of COVID-19 on campus last year. He also emphasized the measures put in place this year to make the return to in person classes possible, highlighting staff efforts to install air purifiers in each classroom. Despite all of last year’s challenges, Cabrera noted that the year was still a remarkable one for Tech.
“We recruited our largest, most diverse class, we graduated our largest class, we won more research awards, and had more economic impact than ever before,” he said. “This would have been a great year, even under the most favorable circumstances.”
Cabrera acknowledged his colleagues who made a particularly incredible impression on campus in the last year. This included the deans, members of the Cabinet, leaders in campus associations and others who were critical to the Institute’s affairs.
Cabrera also highlighted other achievements Tech saw in the last year.
“We are not only the fastest growing institution in the state, but The Chronicle [of Higher Education] listed us as one of the top ten fastest growing institutions in the nation for the past decade,” he said.
Cabrera also noted that Tech was listed by the University System of Georgia as, “the biggest contributor to the state economy among all public universities.”
Cabrera noted other milestones for the past year, including the best fundraising year ever and having a stellar athletic year and research cycle, before moving onto items to look forward to this year.
“The new student center, together with the Exhibition Hall and the pavilion, will have a major impact on student life,” he said. Cabrera also mentioned the completion of the EcoCommons, a green space he recommends all members of the Tech community take time to enjoy.
He also emphasized how Tech is looking to increase the number of low-income students it recruits, and how the administration wants to institute more holistic support of students to improve their academic success and non-academic well-being.
Cabrera ended his formal address by praising the rebranding of Tech by consolidating the Institute’s many logos into a new, standardized one. He then showed a recent video showcasing the Invention Studio made by Institute Communications before answering questions submitted by the Tech community.
A recording of the entire address can be found on Tech’s YouTube channel and a transcript of Cabrera’s speech can be found online at president.gatech.edu.