August 25, 2020

Dear Community,

It’s always difficult to find the words to say when our community, society, or world is struck with tragedy or hardship. In recent years, the number of times I’ve sat down to craft such a message has disturbingly ticked up. But 2020 has been a year unlike any in my tenure.

As we begin Fall semester, a time I have always loved for all its newness and renewal, I find myself again having to craft such a message. As I write this, the wildfires scourging the Bay Area continue to force our community members to evacuate their homes. Throughout the world, chaos continues to unfold—natural disasters, the explosion in Beirut, ecological degradation, social unrest, and war.

Amid these tragedies, I also watch how our community’s arms extend to hold everyone, near and far, in their hearts. We are all carrying so much at this time; indeed, for too long a time, and we’re not through it yet. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Please, take good care of yourselves. Reach out to each other and let each other in. Do what you are able, as you are able—whether that is supporting loved ones and friends or organizations around the globe working to help people with disaster relief, or else lending your voice and energy to a cause you care about. While none of us alone can solve the issues we are collectively facing, banding together, committing to action, and creating places of mutual collaboration will go far to help achieve this. This is the hope I find amid the despair of the present moment.

I find hope also in the work we do—work that has never been more important. We study trauma and inequity and their effect on individuals and communities. Each year we educate a new generation of healers, advocates, and scholars seeking the deep knowledge and engagements that make a difference in the lives of people around the world. This year, with all the required adjustments in learning, I am especially inspired by the work of our faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this next generation will be ready to take up this task.

Our University, in its unwavering commitment to the continuity of education and community support in these times, offers the following:


If you have been evacuated because of the Bay Area fires, have COVID-related hardships, or are dealing with other disruptions, please contact Yunny Yip, Dean of Students, at or 415.655.5573 and your Program Chair/Director or Advisor. We are committed to exploring options that allow you to continue your studies at CIIS. Please note that a Financial Hardship Grant will be available to students within the next few weeks, and we encourage students who are facing or continue to face substantial hardship to apply. Yunny Yip will soon email more information directly to students, which will be posted on the Student Affairs MyCIIS site:

Faculty and Staff

Please email to report an illness or evacuation. Please contact Yunny Yip if you know of students who have been dislocated.

Additional Resources

  • Federal Funds: FEMA announced that wildfire survivors are now able to register for federal financial assistance. For more information, visit
  • Bay Area 211 Emergency Service: The 211 Service coordinates all community services—public, private, and nonprofit—free of charge. It provides personalized information and referrals to providers of food, temporary lodging, housing, health care, mental health, transportation, income, utility assistance, and more. 211 includes the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano. For locations elsewhere in California, visit

I know there are many organizations that are aiding people in need. We welcome your recommendations for resources, both to help those in our community who are struggling during this time and so that community members can lend their support with time or money. Please email your suggestions to We are assembling a list for these resources that can be found on the Student Affairs website.

As we begin this new academic year, let us hold feelings of challenge and hope simultaneously. While CIIS is still virtual, there will be new classmates, colleagues, and faculty to meet, new subjects and skills to learn, new passions to pursue, and new goals to set and reach. Let us keep the resilient spirit that defines us as we continue to work toward new horizons and better days.



CIIS Administration, Former President, Staff News, Community

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