Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
I’ve never been through a year that so many people are looking forward to putting in the rear view mirror. 2020 will be remembered for the friends and family lost to COVID-19, for the disruptions we endured, the difficult decisions we had to make, and the almost endless adaptations we accepted.
But as we look back we can take pride that these many challenges brought out the best in us. Let me share a few examples.
The students, faculty, and staff at our campuses proved nimble beyond anyone’s expectations. This spring, in a matter of just weeks, our campuses went from business as usual to fully online. At the time, not many outside academe thought that possible. But we knew that campuses are constantly changing to provide students with the best possible learning and living experience. It’s just that COVID-19 demanded some really big changes.
With the many adjustments made over the summer and precautions implemented ahead of the fall semester, our campuses demonstrated the resolve to put first the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff. While there were some COVID-19 cases on our campuses, they were small in number and manageable. As Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield put it: “…what happened over the summer and the fall is many colleges and universities stepped up to developing comprehensive mitigation steps that they really engaged the student body to buy into.”
These plans worked because students wanted to be on campus. Throughout the fall semester our students proved responsible not only for themselves but also for others. In the face of myriad challenges they came together as a community and drew strength from one another, and on many campuses, their faith.
Our presidents deserve to be commended for the leadership they have demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I remain impressed by their commitment to their campus communities and willingness to make many hard decisions.
There was no pandemic playbook for them to use. None had COVID-19 experience upon which to draw. Our presidents had to rely on their own experience and the judgement of staff to take any and all necessary steps in response to COVID-19 while also preserving the future of their institutions. Though COVID-19 was expensive in terms of additional costs and reduced revenue, presidents never stopped putting students first.
The presidents would tell you the same could be said for the faculty and staff. No one expected to work from home for months, to rewrite course syllabi, and to develop new office procedures, just to name a few of the curve balls thrown at them. But faculty and staff were resilient and determined to make their campuses work, and they did.
I’m very proud of the SCICU staff who worked tirelessly to ensure that we were doing all we could to support our campuses.
We must not overlook the work of the federal and state governments to help soften the blow of COVID-19 and pharmaceutical companies working with them at “warp speed” to produce vaccines and provide for their distribution. Their achievements are saving lives and expanding immunity to the point where we soon will be turning the corner on this pandemic.
That’s something we all can look forward to in 2021.