The June 10 Board of Governors meeting took place via Zoom. Click the video above to listen to APSCUF President Dr. Jamie Martin’s comments, or read them below as prepared:
Chairwoman Shapira, Chancellor Greenstein, governors, university presidents, and guests,
Good morning. My name is Jamie Martin, I am the president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), which represents the faculty and coaches at our 14 great universities. As you know, I am following in the footsteps of our incredible past president, Dr. Ken Mash.
On behalf of our membership, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for the time and energy that you put forth in trying to improve the lives of our students and for striving to fulfill the mission of our System: to provide a high-quality, affordable education for them.
As Chairwoman Shapira just eloquently stated, it goes without saying that we are amid unprecedented times as a nation and as a State System. There is great uncertainty as we grapple with a deadly virus that has taken the lives of over 110,000 of our fellow citizens, shuttered businesses and schools, and decimated our economy. There is great social unrest that can be seen in protests across our country as millions appropriately demand social justice. And, there is uncertainty at our universities as we begin to plan for the fall 2020 semester. There are questions about the structure of our classes, the protocols and policies that are needed to keep everyone healthy and safe, concerns about being able to accomplish social distancing in a variety of settings, and the accommodations that will be necessary for individuals who are — or who reside with someone who is — vulnerable to this virus. I expect that some of these topics will be discussed here today.
While uncertainty exists, I know that certainty is present in the resolve among my colleagues to provide the best educational experiences that we can for our students. The way in which faculty members quickly pivoted from face-to-face classes to remote delivery in March was remarkable and demonstrates the talent, dedication, and skills that they possess. My colleagues now stand at the ready to work in partnership with the administration at their respective universities to tackle the questions about a safe return to the fall semester. Please continue to involve them, listen to the wisdom that they have gained from years in classrooms with students, and recognize the love that they have for their schools. We all want to be back in our classrooms interacting with our students, but we recognize that the fall 2020 semester is but one semester of many others that will follow. I ask that we have a thoughtful discussion about returning to campus in a safe manner, and one that looks at the long term and not just the near.
I believe that those working so hard on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 will be successful and our lives will return to some sort of “new normal,” but that day is not yet here. Winston Churchill said, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Our hope is that, at the end, all of our students, staff, and all of our faculty will return in good health, our campuses will again have the energy and vibrance that they had in early March, that we will see our students relaxing and playing on our quads, and that we will be face-to-face in our classrooms with no need to wear masks.
I do hope that all of you and your families are safe and well.
Thank you very much for your time.