Gratitude and best wishes for a safe, restful and healthy long weekend

In the midst of so many challenges—including the new COVID-19 restrictions announced by the State of California last week—we now have an opportunity to refresh and recharge over the upcoming holiday break. For many of us, the long weekend is a time for reflection, connection and for giving thanks for what we have.  

As president of San José State, I am tremendously grateful for our remarkable student body, and I feel privileged to work every day to support this diverse group of students who we strive collectively to educate. Joining me in this endeavor, of course, is an esteemed group of faculty and staff members alongside whom I am honored to work.

All of these individuals—indeed, anyone who considers themselves part of the SJSU community—has time and again proven to be kind, caring, compassionate and committed to each other’s success and well-being. The work everyone is doing, despite the pressures of the past several months, inspires and motivates me.

As we work our way through the pandemic, despite the real hardship that exists for many, there continues to be cause for celebration at San José State. Last week, for instance, I was delighted to take part in a virtual event where our School of Journalism and Mass Communications presented the William Randolph Hearst Award to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

What a bold and wholly appropriate selection by our faculty! Dr. Fauci received his award with his trademark humility, wit and grace, and it was an honor to welcome him to the San José State community and hear him speak.

Also last week, those from our Enrollment Management group, Division of Student Affairs and Division of Academic Affairs picked up where they left off just a few months ago to deliver another engaging and compelling Admitted Spartan Days. This online experience featured Zoom workshops, virtual tours and webinars for prospective new students and their families, and I very much appreciate all the work that went into this successful event.

Many members of the SJSU community—particularly our students—also were incredibly active throughout the recent election cycle. I appreciate the staff, faculty and students who put on an amazing amount of programming and planning to support our students and employees the days and weeks prior to and following the election. Seeing so many people engaged in our democratic process was heartening and should give us hope that our future is in good hands. Our campus’s civic mindedness is one of the many attributes that makes me proud to serve as president of this university.

Speaking of our students, I admire how they continue to be focused on their studies and academic goals despite the trials and tribulations they face. The story of grad student Katy Jiang, whose competition-winning video explains the use of artificial intelligence and “deepfakes” to influence and undermine public opinion, caught my attention. Katy’s work exemplifies how our students’ foundational skills—including their digital and tech skills—can be applied toward their own civic participation.

While I wish we could gather in person to recognize our students’ accomplishments, I nevertheless am excited about our upcoming Fall 2020 graduate recognition activities, when the latest group of Spartans will earn their diplomas and celebrate the completion of their academic journeys. Video presentations and the launch of eight graduate recognition websites—one for each of our colleges—are set to launch on December 18. You will hear more as the day draws near, and I know everyone will join me in making this period as special as we can for our new graduates.

I recognize that there are those among our Spartan community who may not have the resources or ability to travel to be with loved ones. Our SJSU Cares program and resources such as CAPS, EAP and the Spartan Food Pantry are still providing services next week, and to show our gratitude to those students who have called our university home this semester, we are pleased to be offering a free holiday meal to anyone staying on campus over the long weekend. Thursday’s meal will be served from 4-7 p.m. at the Dining Commons.

In addition, I very much appreciate the residence hall staff and other essential staff working through next week to maintain a safe and welcoming campus. We also are continuing to work on improving the campus climate, addressing issues of equity and doing all we can to make SJSU the most welcoming place possible. 

Finally, a word about our Spartan football team: Wow! It is so exciting to see the work of Coach Brennan, his staff, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marie Tuite and so many others leading to on-field success. We were confident that we were building a program the right way, one focused on hard work, academics and good character, and we now are seeing the fruits of that labor. Spartan Nation is fired up, and we are all looking forward to the rest of the season—and perhaps even a bowl game! 

I want to offer my sincere thanks to all members of the Spartan community for their hard work, leadership, vision, caring, responsiveness and dedication to our students. And, to our students: best of luck as finals approach! 

Best wishes to everyone for a safe, happy and healthy holiday break.

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