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Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

On Thursday, Adele and I helped a number of our first-year students and their families move into the Yard. While it was wonderful to see the campus come to life, there were also a lot of bewildered folks looking a bit lost. We answered a lot of questions—advising people where to park, where to get keys to their rooms, and how to find their dorms. The fear that everyone else knows what they are doing and where they are going is part of being new. One of the easiest things we can do over these next few weeks is to remember that fact and go out of our way to be helpful. Gestures of goodwill and acts of kindness—even small things like offering directions and holding doors open—are daily practices of welcoming new members into our community as we begin the fall semester together. 

But the last thing we want those new to Harvard to believe is that everyone here already knows everything. Harvard is also a place where people are brought together and encouraged to think deeply about the unknown. We exist to generate new knowledge that helps to inform our understanding of the world in every possible dimension. Even now, with so many move-in days behind me, I am thrilled by the hope and renewal that each academic year brings. There is such a sense of adventure and possibility in our work, and it is good to remember from time to time how fortunate we are to have the privilege of being here, of seeking satisfaction—of seeking joy—as we strive to make our contributions to knowledge and to humanity.

To those of you who are here for the first time, welcome. To those of you who are here for another year, welcome back—and thank you for helping to make this community the extraordinary place that it is. I hope the year ahead is everything that you wish it to be.

All the best,