Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear GT Computing Community,

“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

It’s been a very long week. We’ve been moving fast in the past few days to get our operations up and running online, learning new ways of making work happen, and trying to adjust to the new reality. I wanted to slow down for a moment, though, and talk a bit about the stress we’re all facing.

When I say stress, I don’t just mean professional stress, although there’s been plenty of that. It is certainly the case that pretty much everything we do right now takes more effort. On top of that, there’s the stress of events and projects that have been delayed or cancelled. There is the stress of being a part of and leading teams when you cannot share space. There is uncertainty about what will happen next.

But our stress is more than professional. Our personal lives have changed profoundly, and so quickly. We are experiencing O(2^n) in real time and there is nothing pleasant about it. Some of those who live alone may feel isolated, and some of us who spend all day, every day at home with our families may be longing for a little time alone. We are worried about ourselves and our loved ones, especially those who may be at greater risk. We can’t even burn off tension by going to the gym, to our favorite restaurants, to sporting events, or whatever it is we normally do. Normal isn’t really an option.

Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. I do get it, though, and so does your supervisor, your Chair, and the Institute leadership. We’re going through it ourselves, and as we call emergency meeting after emergency meeting every day, we talk about the stress on faculty, staff, and students. We are working hard to solve problems as fast as we can, so that we can at least reduce the professional burden on the community as much as possible now and in the future.

I have seen some extraordinary efforts and some amazing ingenuity from staff and faculty in the past few days. I have always believed that our faculty and staff are among the best anywhere, and the current crisis has only shown that to be true.

Nothing we do right now is easy, but as my mother says to me at least once a month for some reason or another: this, too, shall pass.

Please take care of yourselves and know that we will make it through this.

Peace.
--
Charles L. Isbell, Jr.
John P. Imlay, Jr. Dean
College of Computing
Georgia Tech

EA: Alicia Richhart, alicia@cc.gatech.edu, 404-894-8357