Looking back on a year of social unrest, manifesting climate change, and a pandemic, it could be easy to see the many problems we face as overwhelming. The antidote is to see how the need to evolve brings about transformation. It may be a cliché, but it is also true that when a caterpillar wakes to find itself locked in a cocoon, it feels trapped. Once it figures a way out, it discovers it can fly.
2020 was a year in which the needs of “the moment” may have caught up to at least some of what science has been offering for years. Global society is more aware—suddenly and acutely—of the advantages that science and technology have been developing and innovating. For a long time now, a much larger percentage of our economy has been capable of working from home. Once the emergency aspect of the pandemic subsides, we will be left with the fact that the telecommute has been normalized and the evolution of the workplace has taken a sudden leap forward. This brings a range of positive ramifications for the environment, the physical and mental health of workers, and much more. Similarly, after years of perseverance in research, mRNA technology has arrived with a long list of practical applications, and a future of unprecedented medical achievements has been fast-tracked.
The implications of that kind of change carry across all fields and all institutions. We are seeing it play out now in our Caltech Alumni Association, where the moment has also brought new leadership and new realizations about our mission and our capabilities.
By fostering community, we can help you find the best outlets for your talents and the best people to share yourself with as you live, work, and play. We are here to help you leverage who you have become as a graduate of this unique institution, so that you are living your best life. In this way, our work becomes as important as it is practical.
As an example, in 2020, the number of Techer alumni participating in Seminar Day exploded from a one-time low of 450 to 2,500, 60% of whom had never participated before. Where regional events traditionally bring 50 to 60 people, a recent webinar featuring Charlie Munger drew 2,900. Why? Because the needs of this moment made the creation of better virtual spaces and experiences necessary. We delivered and you responded with unprecedented participation in live events.
As our community grows stronger, the mission of the Alumni Association becomes more important. The fact that Caltech alumni work at the forefront of this global transformative moment adds extra meaning—or us—to our purpose, our dedication to the success and well-being of every member.
As you work to advance humanity, we work to support and advance you.
Yours in this transformative moment,
Satoshi Ohtake, PhD (BS ’00)
President, Caltech Alumni Association