Leadership in a Time of Transition
Sent: October 27, 2021
From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
I hope this email finds you well!
We are well into our fall semester and students are starting to register for spring classes. We remain in a transitional period as it relates to COVID, but through some amazing campus efforts, the vast majority of our students, faculty, and staff are in compliance with new campus health guidelines. The spring will bring some new challenges, particularly as we continue to repopulate our campus by increasing the number of classes taught face-to-face. We are also in the midst of a larger conversation about the future of work. We have to figure out the best way to meet the goals of our campus strategic plan and respond to the demands of our students who are asking for an increased amount of flexibility in the teaching, learning, and support environments. I am extremely proud of everyone in the division and on the campus for the effort that has gone into getting us to this point. I know people are excited to be back in-person even as we learn to navigate a longer-term “COVID endemic world.”
The campus transition will also involve new presidential leadership. In November, Chancellor Castro will be on campus talking to a few groups he identified. He will then announce plans for interim leadership and a search timeline. SJSU has faced a presidential transition before President Papazian’s five and half years in the role. Unlike that previous experience, however, I believe President Papazian has created a stable leadership environment and shepherded through some incredible investments in the operations of the campus. Those investments include, for example, a stronger Title IX Office, which will help us create the accountability structures that our students, faculty, and staff deserve. The foundations are thus in place to keep moving forward, even as there is some hard work ahead to change campus culture and make it a more equitable place.
Like many of the several hundred faculty and staff SJSU has hired in the last several years, I came to SJSU because of the Strategic Plan – a collectively developed vision – and the idea of working in the CSU. I have always believed in the mission of this system and was drawn to this role for many reasons: the importance of our teaching and learning mission, the vision for an expanded set of efforts in research, scholarly, and creative activity, and the greater investments in graduate education. All of these efforts and more make SJSU a system leader, earning it a special place within a unique (and sometimes challenging) geographic location that can help drive creative solutions to the wicked problems we face as a society.
Despite the challenges we have addressed in the past and the transitions we must manage into the future, I remain incredibly excited to be at SJSU. I am thrilled at our achievements to date and the continued opportunity to build on the foundations that were in place when I arrived. I believe in my colleagues and the investments SJSU has made in this institution and its people to deliver an outstanding education for all our students, while we also create new forms of knowledge. I also believe that we are well positioned in San José and the Silicon Valley to take a more significant role in the region. Our impact is not only evinced in the data presented in our campus’ economic and social impact report , but also in the day-to-day conversations I have with people throughout this region. There is a real excitement about SJSU. Organizations around the region see us as a strategic partner; they believe SJSU’s success is San José’s success.
We can and must manage our own future. We cannot be the campus that waits around for others to do the work for us. We must leverage our creative potential to help co-create a just and liveable world and we can do that through our advocacy, as well as our basic and applied research efforts. We can also do this through investments in new forms of access in online and distance education and in the development of deeper partnerships in the region that advance our research, scholarly, and creative activities mission. There is much more work to be done. Our collective futures rests in our collaborations, our partnerships, and our shared sense of purpose and vision. I remain committed to this work, as I know you do, too.
I hope you all remain safe and well. I can’t wait to see what SJSU does next!
All the best,