Fellow Bears,

Welcome to the start of a new year. As we return from winter break, I am mindful that the time away was different for each member of our university community. For many, the holidays were a time of joy and celebration with loved ones. For others, the holiday season may have brought new or renewed experiences with loneliness and grief. You may be aware that my own family experienced a heartbreaking loss with the death of my son Nick on December 31, 2022.

The outpouring of support for my family has reminded me that the University of Northern Colorado is truly a special place. We are a university made up of students, faculty, and staff who see, listen to, and support one another. As a campus, we commit daily to creating a welcoming, collaborative, and caring culture, and we come together with a common purpose to put our students first.

As I reflect on the last few weeks and the importance of meaningfully engaging with those closest to us, I encourage you to consider how you might do so with your fellow members of the UNC community. For example, some of you may have participated in yesterday’s inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, with leadership by the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, and are looking for additional opportunities to help build a diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus community. UNC’s Cultural and Resource Centers are one of the many spaces on campus that offer opportunities for connection and engagement.

You may also find yourself looking for a place to gather with friends and colleagues. I invite you to check out the three new restaurants that opened last week at the University Center. Additionally, when Burger & Co. opens later this month, I hope you will try a special chicken sandwich I designed. These new options are in addition to a Starbucks and two mobile food carts that were added earlier in the academic year, which together expand the on-campus dining options and create additional spaces for members of our community to gather. 

The return to campus of students, faculty, and staff has me looking forward to the possibilities ahead this spring. I am particularly proud of our collective efforts to advance UNC’s mission and implement the Rowing, Not Drifting 2030strategic plan, and I look forward to providing you with updates throughout the semester.

As we begin the new year, I encourage you to find opportunities to prioritize community and connection and see this as central to your experience at UNC. You have reminded me that “Once a Bear, Always a Bear” is more than just a fun statement to shout out during Commencement. It is a sentiment that defines our campus community, and it is my honor to start the spring semester together with you as part of the Bear family.

Andy Feinstein