April 5, 2021
As we enter the final weeks of the spring term, and the end of the 2020-21 academic year, there is much to reflect upon. On the positive side, increasing numbers of our university community are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and are looking forward to resuming a return to relative normality in the coming semesters. Yet we must also maintain safe practices until we are fully cleared to resume pre-COVID life.
This has also been a period of enormous social, economic, and political challenges. Over the past few months, we have felt the effects of the death of George Floyd, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the election of a new administration, anti-Asian violence, and the continuing struggle over voting rights. If you are feeling overwhelmed as I sometimes do, it is not only reasonable but expected. President Szymanski and I stand in unity and solidarity with all of you. We are one UNF team. The following resources are available to you:
Please let us know how administration can help to continue these important conversations.
Over this difficult period, we have continued to advance the mission of the university. Whether it is a result of converting your classroom to a virtual learning space, engaging in difficult conversations, practicing health and safety measures to protect our community, or empowering your students to be more informed citizens at a time when we most need critical thinkers, UNF has been transformed. Through this year of shared experiences, I am hopeful we will enter our next academic year with renewed energy, sustained engagement in important issues, and more opportunities to participate and learn from each other - even if we continue to stand six feet apart!
There remains a lot of activity on our campus and I would remind and encourage you to participate in upcoming workshops and events to support your students and colleagues. Below are some highlights of planned sessions that you might engage in during these last few weeks of the term. Also included are activities and initiatives provided to students to help move them past this difficult time. We ask that you direct students to these resources during your interactions.
Happening on the UNF Campus:
Our COVID Team has administered 704 first doses of vaccines to our UNF community. They have led a remarkable and impactful effort to assist our staff and faculty in accessing these critical vaccines as well as provide testing throughout this past year.
Office of the Dean of Students and Office of Student Accountability and Resolution (OSAR): the following information will be helpful as we continue to monitor student and well-being:
- For students still experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, remember that the Office of the Dean of Students team is here to assist you in addressing our students' needs and helping students get connected to necessary services. Please remember that our SOS program, Ombuds, Nesting Place services, and the Student Emergency Relief Fund is still available for students who need help.
- The Office of the Dean of Students is offering training for faculty, staff, and students that focus on learning about the Supporting Our Students (SOS) program, how to identify and help students in distress, how to submit SOS referrals and what types of situations should be referred to SOS. Training is tailored specifically to the population in attendance and can be adapted based on individual or departmental needs. If you would like your office, certain professional staff members, student employees, or student organizations to participate in this training, please contact David Stout, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of SOS, at email@example.com.
- The Office of Student Accountability and Resolution (OSAR) has named April as Student Conduct Board Outreach month. During the month of April, OSAR will be sharing information about serving on the board and recruiting Faculty, Staff, and Students. Please see the attached information flyer and visit the OSAR website for more information.
Research Week is a celebration of faculty and student scholarship with a rich variety of scheduled events. Hear from two Mathematics and Statistics professors as they talk about their research on cancer driver genes and the socioeconomic impact of the opioid crisis during the Biomedical Sciences Research in Progress event (Friday, April 9), and attend professional development workshops on peer mentoring and writing P&T narratives offered by the Office of Faculty Enhancement (OFE) on Tuesday, April 6 and Friday, April 9.
There are three scheduled Research Now events. Learn how to find and monitor external funding opportunities at Moving Your Research Forward on Tuesday, April 6; hear what faculty in the Department of Physics and College of Ed are doing in terms of the scholarship of teaching and learning on April 7, at SoTL Innovations in COAS and COEHS; and find out what's new in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) at It's a New Thing, on April 8.
The biggest events of Research Week are two research poster project conferences: SOARS (the Showcase of Osprey Advancements in Research and Scholarship), our annual symposium of student scholarship, and STARS (Scholars Transforming Academic Research Symposium), our faculty research event.
The SOARS 2021 Virtual Conference, the second online iteration of the formerly face-to-face event, goes live at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7. SOARS proudly displays undergraduate and graduate student research abstracts and project posters, many with supplemental media and/or video presentations. I encourage you to go to the beautiful website created by Andy Rush of CIRT, any time after launch, to view the posters, leave comments for the student researchers, see which won special designation as Projects of Merit, and learn who has been selected as the 2021 Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year and 2021 Undergraduate Researcher of the Year!
After a pandemic-hiatus last year, STARS is back with a robust online presence: the Faculty Poster Competition website, open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 9. During this time, you can view the posters and vote for your favorite in two categories (Tenured Faculty and Junior Tenure-Track Faculty). You can even ask live questions of the presenters between 12 noon and 1:00 p.m. Zoom back in from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. for the Faculty and Staff Awards Ceremony, when the special people involved with our university's research enterprise are recognized and the STARS Faculty Research Poster Competition winners will be announced.
From Student Engagement and International Affairs:
As our students begin to wrap up their semester and gear up for finals, we are hosting a number of programs focused on wellbeing, stress management, as well as just having fun.
- April 8: Oz Fest, a UNF tradition and annual concert, will take place drive-in style, in Lot 18.
- April 12 & 13: the Military and Veterans Resource Center, in partnership with the SAFEProject and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), is hosting a Veteran Wellness training program to empower veterans through resiliency building, while helping participants seek help where there is a risk of substance use, mental health and other challenges.
- April 15: RecWell will be hosting the "All the Night Reasons to Destress at Eco." This event will provide a number of safe, educational and engaging stress-free events for students before finals week; activities include paddle boarding on the lake, night hikes on the Trails, yoga on the Island, and mindful meditation.
- April 23: The Student Government Agency, Lend-A-Fit, which is an on-campus boutique that provides students access to business professional clothing, free of charge, will be hosting its grand opening ceremony.
OspreyPERCH Prevention, Early Intervention & Resiliency through Counseling & Holistic Health is an incredible resource to UNF. Please connect with Dr. Carlene Taylor to learn more about the program and services. Attached is a PPT that describes the initiative and its current and future efforts.
Thank you for all that you do. I wish you a successful end of spring term and look forward to our collective efforts to transition to a more normal summer and fall campus environment. Please reach out directly to me if I can be of assistance.