Weekly Repopulation Update 5/4

Sent: May 4, 2021

From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear colleagues,

As we continue to prepare for repopulation, we are entering a stage where we are generating as many questions as we have answers. The vaccination requirement, for example, raises lots of questions of how we will track vaccinations and then enforce compliance. While the SJSU senior leadership team awaits formal word from the Chancellor’s Office, we continue to look at how we can best meet both the testing and vaccination needs of our campus and community. There have already been conversations in the Academic Senate and Academic Senate Executive Committee about some of these issues, as well as engagement with Associated Students, through their Academic Affairs team about potential implementation issues. More to come but please know that nothing will be formalized before there is an FDA approved vaccine on the market (so far all three vaccines remain active under an emergency authorization). 

We have also tried to respond to many concerns about campus safety in the fall. As I mentioned last week, we made adjustments to the course schedule to accommodate more airflow between classes. I have received some concerned feedback about these changes from the campus chairs. In their requests to me, they ask for a number of things, including a more inclusive dialogue about campus changes, greater flexibility on some key deadlines, and investments in technologies that could help us better utilize our campus classroom spaces. As I mentioned to them, and will note here, we are already making a direct investment in technologies that help us automate our room and course schedule process. In conversation with the deans, we have also adjusted the hiring request timeline to provide some ease at the department and college level. I am looking into other timelines that we might adjust to ease stress over the last few weeks of the semester. In addition, we plan to host a Chair Retreat to discuss the role of the chair and how to support that role better. I will share more details once they are finalized.

The chairs, as well as the deans and vice provosts, have also expressed the need to support our staff during this challenging time. We have an amazing community of staff members who have taken on a lot of change over the last year. We are not going to make any other major changes to the fall schedule and we will bring folks together to discuss Spring ‘22 scheduling as well to determine if we need to continue to shift things around or not. In addition, we are looking at other strategies to support our campus staff - this conversation has been pushed up to the Cabinet level.

As always, I want to thank everyone for their hard work. I have had the pleasure of reviewing retention, tenure and promotion files recently. We have some amazing faculty colleagues on this campus! The work with students is incredible, the scholarship is challenging disciplinary thinking, and the service stretches well beyond the campus in direct support of communities both near and far. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the video from our Celebration of Research, please do when you get a chance. It was an incredible event.

Stay safe,