This week, I write to express my profound gratitude to every member of the Aggie Community. The month of March was challenging. But three weeks ago, we addressed the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic, keeping two guiding principles in mind: to protect the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and to ensure that our students can maintain progress toward their academic goals. New Mexico State University has risen to the occasion. Since early March, we have all worked incredibly hard under unprecedented difficulty. Here are some recent highlights:
- Our faculty took an entire semester’s schedule of courses to online delivery. Colleges assembled teams of online experts to help colleagues, and early reports are reassuringly positive. Students report that faculty have communicated extensively with them, faculty report higher-than-usual student attendance, and even a few students who initially opted out of online learning have come back.
- Employees have set up home offices, established Wi-Fi networks and relearned how to work with just one screen. Although all faculty and staff are essential to the mission of NMSU, many of us can perform our essential work away from campus. So, we are staying home and teleworking.
- Support services have moved online: Students can Zoom with Financial Aid, talk with an adviser
or meet with a tutor, all online. The spring class of 2020 will have the option of graduating online.
- Aggie Health and Wellness worked with ICT and Academic Technology to establish HIPPA-compliant connections, so we can all now visit with a health care provider via telemedicine. Students can also meet with a counselor through secure connections.
- ICT has provided more than 100 computers to students and employees; established a technology resource website for both students and employees; set up Wi-Fi networks in parking lots; expanded our VPN system so people who need a secure connection have one; and, in conjunction with Academic Technology, sped up the implementation of Zoom so that it has become the tool of choice to allow us to remain connected to each other.
- Housing and Residential Life has accommodated students who wanted to leave and students who need to stay. They are ensuring that those remaining on campus have more space to socially distance, and they are providing virtual programming to keep students connected.
- Facilities and Services is still on the job, keeping our campus clean and beautiful. They are systematically disinfecting all buildings, have increased cleaning in our computing labs, and are partnering with Housing and Residential Life to sanitize rooms for new occupants.
- Communication has been key to dealing with all these changes, and Marketing and Communications has established a central communication portal to meet these needs.
- In March, Aggie Cupboard served double the number of clients it served in February. On Wednesday, the mobile pantry served a record 142 members of our community. Aggie Cupboard could not begin to meet this need without your consistent and generous support.
This pandemic is far from over, and we must prepare ourselves for difficult times ahead. But in every crisis, there are opportunities to exercise sound judgment, plan ahead, innovate and rethink how we do things. We have learned to use new tools and connect in new ways. We have seized the opportunity to come together, to be bold about the future, to be kind to each other, and to be safe in our isolation.
We affirm who we are by how we deal with challenges and adversity. And, we are Aggies.
I welcome not only your questions but your ideas and suggestions at President.Floros@nmsu.edu.