Learning, adapting and shaping our future

It has been four months since we extended our spring break by a week, transitioned to online teaching and moved our staff off campus. The roller coaster has not stopped since then. Pandemics, by their nature, bring fear to our lives and uncertainty about our future, they necessitate fast decision-making and we see rapid changes all around us. To many people, pandemics may cause symptoms like elevated stress, anxiety, mental and physical fatigue. However, I am certain of one thing: As a society, as a community, as NMSU, we will learn, we will adapt, we will overcome, and we will shape our future.

As we live with this new virus, we learn about it. Researchers now understand that this virus passes readily from person to person, but not easily from surfaces such as chairs, desks, mail and other similar objects. Therefore, face coverings are a critical tool in reducing transmission. We have learned more about symptoms, risk factors and treatments. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their quarantine guidelines from 14 days to 10and refined who should be included in contact tracing, we at NMSU will revise our protocols accordingly.

The ability to learn, and then to adapt accordingly, is a key skill in human survivorship, and especially important now. As a university, we are a community of learners. We must adapt to new circumstances, although it is understandably challenging. But the ability to adapt is easier when there is a clear understanding of some foundational principles. I offer the following for consideration.

  1. Learning, education, science and behavior are key to defeating COVID-19. The work we do as a Land Grant University is training students to think critically about science, information, behavior and society. These essential skills are the hallmark of a college-educated person, and they will help our students shape the future.
  2. Fundamental research is also key to our Land Grant mission, and crucial to defeating the virus or to helping people understand how to behave as we live with it.
  3. Finally, we are all in this together, and everybody should understand their role in defeating this virus. Where would we be without people staffing grocery stores, processing our food, manufacturing our medicine, transporting our essentials, our first responders, our own NMSU staff in areas like IT, health, facilities and services? If you have not thanked a front-line worker, do so today, and again tomorrow, and the next day. And above all, please be kind to each other.

Educators are role models, and Dr. Kathryn Hanley, our own NMSU Regents Professor and virologist, has shared some of her expert insights in a thoughtful piece about living with the coronavirus. It is relevant to our times and an excellent read.

I leave you with one final thought: We all make decisions, individually or collectively, to shape the future, based on our experience, knowledge and data from the past. But, we make these decisions in the present. Thus, often change occurs rapidly. You can learn more in the next town hall at 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 28. Join us via Zoom or Panopto, and you can submit questions in advance.

I always welcome your comments at  President.Floros@nmsu.edu.

Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Safe.

Go Aggies!

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