By Cynthia Hubert
President Robert S. Nelsen will discuss the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the painful realities of racial injustice during his Fall 2020 Address this week.
Nelsen had hoped to welcome Hornets back to campus this semester in person. Instead, he asks the community to join him for a virtual speech at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3.
The speech will be streamed on Sacramento State’s website and be recorded and available to viewers unable to watch live.
Nelsen will acknowledge that Fall 2020 is shaping up to be a semester like no other.
With the coronavirus an ongoing threat, the vast majority of courses are being held online and most members of the University community are working from home. Fall sports have been postponed. As wildfires rage across Northern California, smoke has sullied Sacramento’s skies. And Sac State and the nation are reeling from the killings by police of unarmed Black people and protests and calls for reform that have followed.
In his address, Nelsen will focus on two primary themes: the University’s efforts to provide a quality education to all students while emphasizing safety during the pandemic, and its newly energized plans and programs for fostering an anti-racist culture at Sac State.
He will honor the resilience of the Hornet Family and outline some of the ways Sac State is meeting its extraordinary challenges.
Only a few thousand people are expected to be on campus – never all at the same time – for most of the semester, with a variety of measures in place to curb spread of the virus. Residence halls are operating with single-occupancy rooms only, and strict cleaning and physical distancing rules.
Even with the challenges, Nelsen says good things continue to happen at Sac State.
Enrollment is up, and graduation rates are improving. Faculty and staff are doing everything possible to ensure that students can safely and efficiently pursue their degrees. More students can get courses when they want and need thanks to Hornet Launch, widely known as strategic scheduling, which was instituted in the spring.
While navigating budget cuts, Sac State will continue to embrace its five guiding principles, Nelsen says: student success, philanthropy, diversity and inclusion, community engagement and public safety.
These core principles, the president says, have never been more important as Sac State responds to the pandemic and to demands for change and progress in response to widespread examples of violence against unarmed Blacks, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Stephon Clark.
The University has a responsibility to fight racism, Nelsen says.
In a message to the community in late May, Nelsen promised nine actions on that front, including hiring an advocate for people experiencing racism and bias on campus. Soon, all 23 universities in the CSU will be required to have a mandatory Ethnic Studies component in general education. In addition, the University has called a convocation for Tuesday, Sept. 29, to help the Sac State community recognize and respond to racism.
During his address, Nelsen will announce new initiatives for supporting and organizing efforts against racial bias. Members of the Sac State community will have an opportunity to join various committees that will explore issues including anti-racist curriculum, pedagogy and learning.
The president will offer details during the speech.
Nelsen plans to end his address with a note of encouragement and hope: Despite unprecedented challenges, Sac State will continue to prosper. The University will move forward, he says, “educating one student at a time.”