Today I rejoiced as I visited the library to see that GW Law students have returned to the law school for the first time in my deanship. I am delighted. As I contemplated my first days on the job as dean, my images were of walking among students bustling to classes and activities in the hallway, or addressing the incoming 1L class in a full auditorium; or shaking 500+ hands to launch a graduating class from the Smith Center Auditorium. And so, to finally see my first students in the building has been a somewhat emotional experience for me today. I am extremely grateful to Deans Pagel, Hammond, and Molinengo for their advocacy that made this possible. I am also thankful to the library staff, and the 110 students who have agreed to comply with campus testing and surveillance protocols in order to make access to the library possible. This is a wonderful and welcome first step.
At the same time, I am sobered by the very sad news that that several of our GW Law students have gotten COVID-19. My heartfelt wishes go to those students and their friends and family as they fully recover and rejoin the law school community.
I have tremendous respect for the fact that Mayor Muriel Bowser has just instituted Phase Two adjustments to help flatten the virus curve in Washington, D.C. The outdoor limit for gatherings has been reduced from 50 to 25 people; indoor gatherings have been reduced to 10 people. We will observe these limits – and do all that we can to be a responsible member of the Washington D.C. community; we are an anchor institution in this city, and therefore have an ethical choice to become either a large part of the solution to the coronavirus outbreak our nation is experiencing, or a large part of the problem. As we choose the former, I commit to also do all in my power to make in-person experiences available to you--our students – whenever and however it can be done safely in the spring. Please take extra care of yourselves during exam period and over the winter break. You have my warmest wishes for a peace-filled and healthy holiday season.
Dayna Bowen Matthew
Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law