April 10, 2020

Hello Everyone,

Happy Friday, and congratulations to everyone who made it through another week teaching, learning, working, and engaging during these extraordinarily challenging times.  I hope that your colleagues, your supervisors, your friends and families are already telling you this: you are doing an amazing job.

I will be back in your inboxes Monday with answers to what I know are some of your most pressing questions about CSU’s COVID-19 response. Today, though, I want to share some clear evidence of the empathy that I see driving so many of you right now. One example: within a day of hearing the recommendation to wear a cloth mask out of the house, our University Communications team hand-delivered 2200 branded bandanas across campus so that those of our employees who are still working in public-facing jobs could have them until we are able to get them manufactured masks. Another example: we’re keeping personal connections alive, whether through academic advisors calling students directly to check in on them, departments organizing virtual birthday parties for team members, or our personal trainers in the Rec Center offering free virtual sessions to their clients. You can read more about one of those personal connections here.

The energy and drive of our response to the coronavirus is nowhere more evident, however, than in our research enterprise.  We have four vaccines and therapeutics in preclinical development, which is incredibly exciting. CSU is also part of the animal model core that the National Institutes of Health is setting up on COVID research. Our scientists have also completed lab testing of technology that may protect the blood supply against the virus; this research will be published soon.

And we’re using our expertise to help manage the crisis on the front lines as well. CSU is a member of the Governor’s COVID PPE Task Force and we are one of the leading sites testing the Personal Protective Equipment that health care workers need access to so they can stay healthy while caring for the sick.

Even as we have demonstrated our incredible ability to do more, faster in response to a new challenge, I am also very proud to assure you that we have also maintained focus on our current institutional priorities. I recently asked Mary Ontiveros, our Vice President for Diversity, to step up and join Blanche Hughes as co-chair of the Race, Bias, and Equity Initiative—and I am so grateful to Mary for saying yes! A Source story will be out next week announcing this and other new steps for the RBEI. I hope many of you read that and continue to engage with us in conversations around equity at CSU and in truly effecting change.

Many of you will know that our students have been some of the most vibrantly engaged with these conversations from the very beginning of the academic year. And our students across the university continue to push us to be better by demonstrating their own brilliance and compassion. One example: when we surveyed student workers to see which of them planned to return to campus to work after Spring Break, many of those who said they were not planning to return begged us to give their salary to a fellow student and to take care of the students they knew who depended on their income on campus for basic necessities.

Another example of our students going above and beyond: I am so excited to share the good news with all of you that two CSU students were awarded Goldwater Scholarships this spring! Congratulations to Raegan Petch and Jessica Roberts, both in College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences! To hear more about these exceptional young women, read the Source story here, and if you know either of them, shoot them a congratulatory email or text, as an alternative to the high-five or hug you might have otherwise given them on campus.

Which brings us to my wishes for all of you. I know that many of you are celebrating religious holidays that would ordinarily bring you together with friends and family. And I hear that we are expecting snow on Sunday! Please don’t lose faith in spring or in the resilience and connectedness of this university community. The hyacinths are blooming in the backyard of Magnolia House right now, and I still care deeply about all of you and wish you some peace and ease this weekend.