25 August 2021
Drawing on themes from Bruce Springsteen’s hymn about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen gave a fall speech on Wednesday that addressed the losses, heartache and resilience.
Springsteen’s album The Rising served as the backdrop for a speech that highlighted the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the determination of Sac State students, faculty and staff to overcome challenges and plans for the University to move forward in the coming year.
“Come for the uprising,” Nelsen said with a catch in his voice, quoting Springsteen’s song about a firefighter walking up the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.
“Yes,” Nelsen said. “We return.”
As the Sac State community returns to campus after 17 months of working, teaching and learning from home, Nelsen described some of the new campus health and safety protocols, including mandatory vaccinations and blankets. faces indoors.
He thanked the gardeners and the police who “showed up every day” to take care of the campus, the nursing students who administered vaccines, the tech staff who distributed laptops to needy students, the professors. and the staff members who “never gave up, who refused to let the pandemic beat them,” and all those who endured hardship to ensure the continuation of the University’s educational mission.
More than 60% of Sac State students this semester will be enrolled in at least one class involving in-person instruction, Nelsen said. Enrollment has remained stable, with over 31,400 students taking courses.
Students and faculty members will arrive in classrooms that have undergone renovations and technology upgrades. New projectors, screens, docking stations, microphones and more will ensure Sac State is “tech-ready,” Nelsen said.
Everyone on campus must certify that they have been fully immunized or claim a religious or medical exemption from the vaccines. Those requesting exemptions will be tested twice a week for exposure to COVID-19.
Vaccines, he said, “are the best way to protect the Hornet family.”
Sac State has introduced other efforts to curb the spread of the virus, including upgrading HVAC systems and adding outdoor seating.
With these measures and more, “we can and will be safe on campus,” said Nelsen.
Although the pandemic created serious financial challenges for Sac State and the 23 members of the CSU system, Sac State prevailed on several levels, he said.
The University will have a balanced budget for the sixth consecutive year. The global On the Rise fundraising campaign, which was shaken by the pandemic, raised nearly 95% of its goal of $ 225 million, Nelsen said. And graduation rates continue to improve across the board, with 26% of students graduating in four years, down from just 8.8% in 2016.
The president spoke of the University’s efforts to become a more diverse, inclusive and, ultimately, anti-racist campus. On September 29, Sac State will hold a convocation to fully unveil its new anti-racism and inclusive campus plan.
Sac State hired a Bias Response Director to assess and respond to allegations of racist incidents on campus. A new Director of Faculty, Diversity and Inclusion will begin work next month, and the University is looking for a new Director of Inclusive Excellence and Learning, as well as a new Vice President of inclusive excellence and director of diversity.
“We are funding what we have declared to be a moral imperative. We’re not just lip service, ”said Nelsen.
As the campus community returns to offices, classrooms, football games and other activities, he expressed optimism and hopes life at Sac State will see better days ahead.
“All aboard this train,” he said, quoting Springsteen’s song “Land of Hope and Dreams”.
“In this train, dreams will not be thwarted. Faith will be rewarded.