New Priorities – A Letter
From Peggy Burns, Associate Dean
Dear Alumni and Friends,
It is with great pleasure and deep gratitude that I present you with this fiscal year special COVID-19 and Racial Equity focused edition of our annual Giving Report, which recognizes your generosity toward the Harvard Graduate School of Design over this especially challenging year.
Before I share the intention behind this specific edition and a bit about what’s inside, I, along with my team in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at the GSD, need to say thank you. We truly appreciate your decision to give your time, energy, and resources to the GSD. Our students, faculty, and staff would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for your efforts on multiple fronts.
Back in January, before lockdown, we collectively heralded the start of a new decade with the sense of hope and deliberation we had experienced in years prior. But by March, the entire world shifted nearly in unison as COVID-19 swept through all seven continents. And within just a few months, during the middle of a global pandemic, our country watched the brutal and unjust killing of George Floyd. From there, our summer and fall harbored a vast array of difficult and vital conversations needed for systemic racial change.
The stories highlighted in this report intend to show the incredible breadth of action taken on both of these fronts from members in this community, along with the profound impact it’s had during this uncertain year.
You’ll read about how your philanthropy helped students with emergency needs and those facing unemployment by providing summer research grants through gifts to the Student Emergency Fund. You’ll watch a report from our incredible Irving Innovation Fellows and read about the new Fellows selected this past summer whose priority is helping the GSD improve the digital learning experience. You’ll have the chance to hear from our Alumni Council on Black Lives Matter and learn about the creation of our new Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund. Over the last 11 months, while we’ve achieved a lot, I’m sad to share that we’ve lost members of our community too, and within this report, you’ll also see our first In-Memorandum article.
Our hope is that your incredible efforts shared here in this new digital format, partnered with the renewed sense of community we’ve built together over the last year, continue into this decade and long into the future. And that sharing these stories today fuels a sense of hope and deliberation we felt when the year began, but with renewed priorities after facing 2020’s many challenges.
Thank you again for making it possible for the GSD to achieve its invaluable education and mission to build a more sustainable, equitable, and beautiful world. As you know well, the world needs designers more than ever.