We have just concluded spring break—a period our students usually spend enjoying personal time away from campus and preparing for the last couple of months of the academic year. A few updates:
- Just over a week ago, we helped trailblaze a successful path to remote instruction by providing our faculty and students with the appropriate combination of technical guidance, available resources, and confidence that all would go well. Just a few days later, we followed the mandate set forth by the University by implementing a remote work policy for the strong majority of SPS staff.
- On the heels of yesterday’s Town Hall, I would like to take a moment to reflect on this time of revolutionary change caused by COVID-19–both within higher education and across society overall. A few major takeaways from the Town Hall include:
- A special SPS task force has been created to represent you and inform the Executive Committee and me on pertinent COVID-19-related issues and challenges;
- We are planning regular virtual Town Halls, with various expert guests, to keep this community apprised of all updates and decisions pertaining to this crisis; and
- We are seeing new networks forming and innovative ways that people are supporting others during this time.
- As stated in previous correspondence, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain our top priority. This focus is steadfast and the decisions made as a School and University will always tether to that commitment.
- Please continue to read and share the “SPS Features” newsletter, including a special COVID-19 version that will be distributed this week, to receive timely updates from all corners of our community. We will continue to highlight the focus of our programs, the expansion of leadership groups including the Board of Overseers, the events that have transitioned to virtual formats, and more.
- Many of you are fearful of these unprecedented times brought on by COVID-19 and confused by the volume of communication you have received, both from Columbia and other sources. In an effort to best hear from you directly regarding this unfolding situation, we have created an email alias called SharewithSPS [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu. This is a venue for you to express feedback, share stories, and offer thoughts to help enhance our coronavirus protocol. I will be personally reviewing inbound queries and we will either provide a response or ask the appropriate member or our Executive Committee to respond. This is the most direct and effective way to be heard.
- I have personally been working with the Student Government Association to better understand the student perspective pertaining to COVID-19 and other key concerns, and I will be hosting a similar online forum for our SPS students later this week. Additionally, two students will join the special COVID-19 task force I mentioned earlier. You will be seeing more of our collaborations on social media posts, and I encourage you to participate in any online discussions sparked by these posts.
We have all experienced various levels of disruption, caused by COVID-19, and the end of these uncertain times is not clear. What I can say is you have the full support of my office, the deans of this School, and the leaders of this University. Now is the time to hear your voice, and I empower you to speak up, online, later this week. In the meantime, please continue to review the University’s COVID-19 page for updates and announcements.
Jason Wingard, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor