Looking Ahead with Hope: A Message from Dean Kelly Otter

Dear SCS Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Fall semester is well underway, and I write to you today to wish you success and newfound confidence as you embark on a new academic year. Whether you are continuing your education, or only beginning your journey here at SCS, I hope this new chapter affirms that this is where you belong at this point in your lives.

I also realize that each of us is arriving at this moment in different ways. Some of us are commuting once again to the SCS building at 640 Massachusetts Avenue NW, and seeing familiar faces in-person a few times a week. Some of us are continuing to operate remotely, and navigating its ongoing challenges as well as opportunities. On top of various personal circumstances, we are all contending with larger stressors that impact us in unique ways: from an ever-evolving pandemic; to natural disasters; to social and political upheaval in the U.S. and abroad.

In short, I fully understand that this remains a profoundly stressful time for many of us.

Yet despite such significant challenges, I choose to remain hopeful. More than a year ago, the SCS building—like the rest of the world—was largely shuttered, an echo of its lively community. Now, slowly but surely, students, faculty, and staff are coming in once more—wearing masks and following detailed safety protocols, but nonetheless gathering together again.

Signs of hope and progress can be found in our everyday lives, but only if we pay attention. We may not be going “back to normal”—in whatever way that was defined before the COVID-19 pandemic—but our community is going back to each other. As President DeGioia remarked during Georgetown’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, drawing from the writings of Fr. Otto Hentz, S.J.: “We can be hope for one another.”

There is much hope to look forward to in this new academic year—one of which is the celebration of the Ignatian Year at Georgetown, which I am co-chairing alongside Fr. Ron Anton, S.J., Superior of our Georgetown Jesuit Community. This year marks the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’s conversion: as a soldier he was struck by a cannonball, which began his transformation into Ignatius the pilgrim and led to the founding of the Society of Jesus. The story of St. Ignatius is a story that can resonate with all of us in this diverse community. Faced with adversity, both personal and collective, how do we respond, inspired by Ignatius’s own transformation, in bold and generous ways that serve our community?  

Georgetown’s Jesuit values and heritage are a cornerstone of SCS; regardless of your own religious background, I invite you to explore what that connection means to you and to the SCS community through upcoming events and opportunities. I also encourage you to follow Mission in Motion, a blog that narrates the many different ways that our SCS community brings Georgetown's Jesuit values to life. More information about how we will honor the Ignatian Year at Georgetown will be released in the coming weeks.

This fall semester and beyond, I urge you to remember that our community is always here to support you. We are all coping with various challenges in a multitude of ways—some of which are not always readily visible to others. If you are struggling, you are not alone: I encourage you to make use of Georgetown’s mental health and wellness resources, including HoyaWell.

We have come a long way, and I know we will navigate this new academic year by looking out for one another. You have my best wishes for a successful semester.



Kelly J. Otter, PhD
Dean, School of Continuing Studies
Georgetown University