Dear campus community,
Too many of my campus messages this year have sadly focused on how hard 2020 has been—and it has been in so many ways. As I write this, most of us are under strict stay at home orders, our hospitals are overwhelmed, we have experienced too much illness and death, and millions are unemployed. It would be almost impossible to exaggerate what we have endured this year. But we have endured. As we get ready to celebrate the many holidays that December brings, I write today to wish you well and to encourage you to think about the things that we can look forward to in 2021.
The news about multiple vaccines is incredibly promising, and we are fortunate to live in a state and region that will prioritize effective distribution to all its citizens. Last week, based on this news, the CSU and SF State announced that we plan to return to in-person instruction for Fall 2021. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we now have a timeline for when we reach it.
I have every confidence that we will receive more assistance from the federal government, including relief from Islamophobic travel bans and renewed support for DACA and undocumented students. I am also hopeful that we will receive financial support to help our students and the University weather the financial challenges of the pandemic. This should include aid to students and funds to strengthen remote instruction/services, support for our pandemic prevention plan and creation of a financial safety net for our enterprises hardest hit by the pandemic. We have much to gain.
California’s better than expected 2020 tax revenues also generate some optimism. While we still have work to do to address our structural deficit and make permanent reductions to meet last year’s budget cut, the increase in state revenues leaves me hopeful that we might not have to address additional budget cuts. Working together, CSU students, faculty, staff and administrators now have a better foundation from which to advocate for funding for student success and for our campuses. We will spend much of the first half of 2021 advocating for the CSU and its absolutely critical role in the social, economic and cultural health of California.
And we have much to look forward to on our campus. Our newest academic building will open this spring, and we received $150M in one-time capital funds to build a long overdue science building. Our students deserve state-of-the-art spaces in which to learn, particularly in majors requiring intensive hands-on learning. Our faculty and staff deserve to work in buildings that enable them to best teach and serve students. These two new buildings go a long way to helping SF State meets its mission as a transformative university.
There are so many examples of how hard all are working to ensure that our students make progress toward their degrees this year. I have been inspired by the creativity of our faculty, the determination of our students, the diligence of our staff, and the flexibility and kindnesses exercised by many. Time and space allow that I share only two today. First, I urge you all to take a few minutes and visit the School of Art 2020 Stillwell Exhibition. I was left breathless by the pieces and the use of technology to replicate a museum visit. Second, I urge you to spend an hour listening to our students tell their stories of this year in Learning Alone: College in the Time of Corona, a Devised Radio Drama. I defy you to remain dry-eyed. I was both greatly saddened by all that our students have given up this year and remarkably heartened by their perseverance and creativity. So, please, join me virtually for a tour of the exhibition and experience, through the words and voices of our incredible students, Learning Alone.
The current health news is overwhelmingly bad. The days are long and dark. Some of us are separated from our families during the worst possible time of year. Many are struggling. But we must persist and look toward 2021 with optimism. We successfully completed another remote term. We have what it takes to complete another. And then we know that it will end.
I wish you all good health and rest over the holidays and winter break. And I say with great certainty that I cannot wait to see you on campus in 2021!
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.