Reflections on our current health crisis and the remarkable resilience of SJSU’s faculty, staff and broader community

Dr. Mary A. Papazian

“Not in my lifetime.”

I keep saying those words over and over, as this moment truly is unprecedented. Just months or even weeks ago, many people had never heard the words “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19.” Things certainly can change quickly; the current public health crisis has now made those phrases household words and part of our national—or worldwide—lexicon.

We have seen other viruses come and go, and some have indeed been serious and even deadly. But the global scale of this particular crisis, the number of individuals who it will affect and the impact it is having on everyday life here and in communities around the world are unlike anything I have experienced in my lifetime.

I know that many of us are experiencing a great deal of fear and worry as we navigate this new world in which we find ourselves. Have I been exposed? Where can I get tested? What about my loved ones? Will I still have a job? Can my family’s business survive? Who will take care of the vulnerable? And there is a profound sadness as we hear of more and more of our community members who have contracted this virus.

The news this week about one of our own campus community members contracting COVID-19 hit us all particularly hard. I think I can speak for the entire Spartan community when I say that we support their healthy and safe return to the university and wish them a speedy recovery.

The emotions we all feel — worry, anxiety, concern — are normal expressions of our humanity and care for those around us.

Though perhaps not top of mind during this period in which we have been asked to “shelter in place,” I am sure many of you are disappointed as I am that we have had to cancel or postpone events such as our Spring 2020 Commencement that are intended to celebrate all that we value in our community. There literally are dozens of such events that have either been postponed or canceled altogether, and this has been disheartening and even heartbreaking at times, even though we understand that such decisions are necessary for the sake of our health and safety. I am pleased, at least, that some events have been able to move to online formats.

In the midst of so much angst and uncertainty, the SJSU community—the staff, the faculty, the students, alumni and all of our other supporters—truly have been amazing. I am moved to see how everyone has come together as a community, to see how people are looking after one another.

I am so very proud of the work being done here by university faculty and staff members. During these very trying and unusual circumstances, I have witnessed example after example of our faculty and staff always keeping the health and welfare of the community and our commitment to our students front and center. The university simply does not function without your efforts and dedication, and that is even more true during times such as these.

There is no doubt that mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is critical as we continue to meet our core mission – to educate and graduate some of the world’s most creative, dynamic, and resilient leaders. COVID-19 will continue to impact our work, our day-to-day lives and our campus operations but it does not have to dampen our focus and passion to help each other as best we can to grow and develop.

There is no doubt that new issues and questions will continue to emerge every day, forcing creative solutions that will require a team effort, flexibility, and new approaches. And, we will do the best we can to be well-prepared – our SJSU community will continue to meet these challenges. We will do all of these things in accordance with San Jose State’s core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and understanding.

So in these early stages of what could be a lengthy disruption, I want to convey my most sincere thanks and appreciation to all of you. I am confident that we will get through this together! Until we are able to be together again in person, please be safe and keep those closest to you safe. And remember, although we may be separated physically for now, we are together in spirit.

Thank you again, Spartan Nation!

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