Welcome to spring semester—and to a long-awaited 2021. I hope you had a restful and enjoyable holiday season.
Last week’s Presidential Inauguration was highly uplifting, hopeful and representative of the values and traditions that Americans cherish. Still, this remains a trying period in our nation’s history.
And of course, we are wrestling with the realities of the ongoing public health and economic crisis as well as the recent stresses on our democracy. Yet still, we press on with our educational mission. It is gratifying, in fact, to know that so many students are continuing—or just beginning—their higher education journeys here at San José State.
Part of that mission, of course, is to provide a framework and structure that enables and empowers voices from various viewpoints to engage in important dialogue. Our commitment to purposeful student engagement is an enduring value here at SJSU, and the recent national climate reminds us how vital it is that we keep providing our students with the tools they need to navigate challenging issues and speak out on the societal changes important to them.
Our dedicated and exceptionally talented faculty and staff remain well-positioned to implementing this and other key elements of our mission. Nearly a year into the pandemic, for example, SJSU faculty members have become phenomenally adept at developing creative teaching methods in a remote environment. A wonderful feature story in our Fall/Winter 2020 edition of Washington Square, “In Good Hands: Faculty Ingenuity and Remote Learning,” offers a number of superb examples of how our faculty members have done this. I hope you will have a look if you have not yet done so.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments for this semester is our Discover SJSU initiative, a collaborative project between our Student Affairs and Academic Affairs divisions. Though this new digital platform “soft-launched” in September, it is now fully mature and ready for a broader student audience.
For students, Discover SJSU showcases all of the wonderful aspects of our university that allows them to virtually discover many of the programs and services our institution has to offer, and it does so in a visually appealing and well-organized manner. Kudos to co-chairs Bonnie Sugiyama in Student Affairs and Tom Reisz in Academic Affairs, as well as their colleagues, for their impressive work. I strongly encourage everyone to check out the site, as well as the social platforms, Instagram and Twitter, that will offer updates throughout the semester.
Our Weeks of Welcome (appropriately known as “WOW”) kicked off on January 25 and continues through Friday, February 26. Fully virtual, WOW aligns well with Discover SJSU and uses a system of categories (such as “Academic”, “Spartan Spirit”, “Wellness” and “Social Justice”, among others) to welcome new and returning students to campus. The activities and events that comprise WOW—some 91 of them in all!—are meant for all students but are especially designed to provide support for new students as they transition into our campus community.
Like so much of the impactful work we do at SJSU, Weeks of Welcome is truly a campus-wide, collaborative effort, with 43 offices and departments hosting various activities and events. I am grateful to the WOW Work Group, composed of so many departments on campus that I cannot list them all here. But you know who you are, and please know how much your work is appreciated and valued.
Many of you will recall Provost Del Casino’s campus message from January 13, which described why it is incumbent upon us to maintain classes in a completely remote environment until February 15 due to the current spike in COVID-19 case rates in our county and state. While the promise of widespread vaccine availability offers hope that we can all return to campus one day soon, we are not there yet and thus must remain vigilant to keep our campus community safe.
As we begin spring semester, let us all be reminded that there is a reason—many of them, in fact—why San José State University currently is ranked by Money magazine as the #1 Most Transformative University in the nation. I would invite you to visit our new “Transformation Defined” website to learn more about what that distinction means for Spartans everywhere.
I know that we will continue to live up to Money’s ranking throughout 2021. Please stay safe. I wish you all the best for a successful semester and a great year.