Marschall Runge

Forum Message from the Dean

Hope and Joy in 2021

Spring 2021
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I’m guessing you, like me, are more than glad to say goodbye to the emotional roller coaster that was 2020. From angst to heartbreak, from gratitude to longing, I’m sure you’ve experienced thoughts and emotions you couldn’t have imagined before this pandemic hit us.

At the same time, I have a new sense of hope for 2021. The year began with a new vaccine at our door and others on the way, as well as a greater understanding of this deadly virus and how to care for COVID-19 patients. I believe we have turned the corner and begun the uphill journey leading us out of the pandemic and back to some sense of normalcy. 

I also believe we should think about how we, as individuals “recover” from the impact of the pandemic by focusing on the joy and fun that is still possible in this altered world. In our own pods and small circles, I am hopeful we can return to some feelings of levity, good humor, and appreciation for the things we might take for granted.

There are other challengers in our state and nation and I truly hope that the coming year will offer opportunities to grow closer together.

As minor a gesture as this is, opening a conversation or meeting with a joke can do wonders. While my old-fashioned, corny jokes may elicit groans and well as smiles, they put people at ease and remind them there is still room for fun and games, despite everything else we’re dealing with. What I have really enjoyed in my work and personal life is sharing my own unique sense of humor.

We still have a long road ahead of us. But wouldn’t it be better if it were peppered with more laughter, flashes of joy, and more connection with each other? I hope we will all make the conscious effort in 2021 to tell that (terrible) joke, make a pun, or just do something that you know will make others smile. Sometimes the simplest gestures are the most powerful.

Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, U-M Medical School
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Michigan
CEO, Michigan Medicine

Photo by Scott Soderberg