Spring Semester Welcome
Dear Faculty and Academic Staff:
As we anticipate the start of spring semester, we once again find ourselves in a liminal space, occupying a transitional – and hopefully brief – time of remote learning as we navigate the ongoing pandemic and its impact on our daily lives. Ensuring the safety and well-being of all Spartans continues to be our top priority. Both my December 31 email to educators regarding the remote start to spring semester and President Stanley’s email to the university community have already provided initial information and guidance on logistics. And on January 1, Joe Salem, Dean of Libraries and Interim Associate Provost for Teaching and Learning Innovation, sent a follow-up message that shared additional Remote Start Teaching and Learning Resources.
Our lives have been disrupted by the Omicron variant across a broad range of areas, and not just in higher education. At MSU, we continue to monitor the dynamic nature of the pandemic, and to implement measures to avoid significant illness and minimize disruptions. Starting the semester with most classes meeting remotely better ensures our ability to continue the academic work of each member of our community. Indeed, a remote start involves less disruption than the potentially greater and longer-lasting disruptions – for both instructors and students – that could result from positive testing and the associated isolation periods. As we learned last year and this past fall, the academic work of the university can indeed progress during trying times.
As my December 31 email noted, areas where in-person learning or academic work are necessary are still allowable, with discretion. Please continue to work with your deans, directors, and chairs to make appropriate accommodations and communicate with your students accordingly, now and as the semester progresses. Residential housing has opened as planned, so students will be on campus as well as in the East Lansing area. Recreational options and the performing arts, including at the Wharton Center, will be available to students and the community, in conjunction with the new policy requiring proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test for athletic, music, art, and theatre events happening on campus. In light of our remote start to the semester, de-densifying campus, and staffing concerns, the Main Library and the Gast Business Library will have modified hours for the month of January.
In this first note of the academic spring, I would like to share some updates from 2021 and goals for the coming semester. It is my hope that reviewing these recent achievements reminds us of our values, capabilities, and aspirations as we commence our individual and collective work this semester. In the note I begin with policy updates and move toward institutional transformation. Values, capabilities, and aspirations join grace and empathy on our list of ways of thinking, working, and transitioning through time and tasks. I look forward to your feedback and engagement at this time and in this space.