University leadership hosts Virtual Faculty Assembly to Provide Support and Insights

As part of a university-wide effort to understand how faculty and their students are adjusting to “the new normal,” FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and Provost Kenneth G. Furton recently hosted a virtual faculty assembly with the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work faculty.

Nearly 90 members of the college joined to hear President Rosenberg give updates about how the university is adjusting to virtual work and learning as the president offered support throughout this period of social distancing.  

“It is important for each of us to keep calm, in particular because a lot of people are counting on us to get it right and you all know that when you are not calm, its harder to make the right decisions and have the clarity you will need,” Rosenberg said. Clarity, he said, is what gives each person the ability to have intentionality about what needs to be done and keeps people from being paralyzed by fear or uncertainty.  

He also mentioned the need to demonstrate flexibility and an openness to trying new approaches: “The kinds of things that, yesterday, we said we would never do; today we are getting them done.”

As this public health crisis grips the world, Rosenberg emphasized the significant impact degrees offered by Stempel College will have on the future, particularly the role of public health education.

“We are not set-in our ways and, now, we have a chance to take a 21st century approach to public health and rethink how we address public health education to make a difference,” Rosenberg said.

The president thanked faculty for all the support that they are providing students as they are uncertain about their health, families and education; while Furton reiterated that the first priority for the university is to ensure that each and every student is receiving a proper education.

Various faculty asked questions, including what the university, as a whole, is doing to help the community through the COVID-19 crisis; insights into what policy makers will be looking for in the future; how we can become more interdisciplinary and community-focused; and how this pandemic will change future large-scale university events, such as commencement.

“We knew that a pandemic like this would strike but nobody knew when. As educators and public health practitioners, we need to be proactive to prepare for the next time something like this happens,” Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of the Stempel College noted. “Stempel College faculty are resilient and collaborative, and we have pulled together to accomplish a lot in a little time. Now more than ever, we need to think out of the box in an efficient way, to ensure that we are prepared for the future while preparing our students for what may come.”

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