I saw a Twitter post the other day that I thought very nicely summarized how 2020 feels: it’s like 1919, 1929, and 1968 all rolled into one year. The pandemic, the economic collapse caused by the shelter-in-place orders, and the frustrations about inequity and racism expressed in the protests have made the first six months of this new decade feel apocalyptic at times. Managing our daily lives, much less planning for the future, seems extraordinarily difficult right now.
Last month I wrote about how I had been encouraging my leadership team to take advantage of this crisis to get some important things done to improve MSU’s student success. Doing so requires us to have a vision of how we want the university to function in the period that will inevitably follow the pandemic. That vision is shaped by our commitment to a belief that every student we admit has the capacity to learn, thrive, and graduate and our expressed goal of eliminating opportunity gaps in persistence and graduation rates at MSU.
The pandemic, the economic crisis, and the many leadership changes at all levels of the university now provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally reshape MSU around student success. One of the most valuable tools we have for advancing an equitable and accessible vision for MSU is the commitment President Stanley has shown to empowering all of us to realize that vision. In conversations with Teresa Woodruff, who takes over as provost on August 1, she has asked detailed questions about DEI and student success and has impressed me as a strong advocate for equity work.
In a recent message to the RHS team, Vice President Gore described every day since March 11 as feeling like Groundhog Day. “The only thing that is normal is that each day ends with a ‘y.’” His recommended response seems every bit as appropriate for our work as it is for Residential and Hospitality Services: “The Spartan Community must look out for each other.” We are all depending on one another, not just to wear masks and wash our hands, but learn and live together in fair and just ways. I sincerely hope that by making more visible the many inequities that we take for granted, the pandemic will excite us to make real the Land Grant’s promise of access and opportunity.