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Fred Kowal

  • Montana has always seemed like home to me. Though I was born and raised in Massachusetts, I spent some of my crucial years out there and discovered aspects of my life journey I could not have realized elsewhere. I met people who became as close as family – even closer, in a couple of cases.
  • A few weeks ago, I spoke about the summer journey my wife and I took to the Big Sky Country of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. As I indicated then, the sky wasn’t so big. In fact, it was gray, with smoke from huge fires farther west, obscuring many of the mountain vistas we were used to seeing. At the same time, oil, natural gas and coal extraction was everywhere.
  • After the pandemic kept my wife and I from traveling much at all for two long years, we were able finally take the long-delayed trip west that we both needed to recharge and relax. I used to live in Montana, and in many respects, it’s home for me. I’ve traveled back there almost every year since the 1980s, by plane, by train and by car. This time, we decided to drive.
  • So, here we are, at the start of another academic year across the largest public higher education system — the State University of New York — facing the continued threats posed by a global pandemic. COVID isn’t done with us; not by a long shot.