Spring Address

April 30, 2020

Dear UAlbany Community:

Yesterday, we held our first-ever virtual Spring University Address convened by the University Senate, with more than 600 participants—a truly impressive level of engagement. I look forward to the time when we can be together on our campuses again, but for now we must continue to connect using all the options available to us. 

During yesterday’s address, I read a beautiful message from our colleague Dolores Cimini, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research, reflecting on our current circumstances:

“In the end, the important thing is not necessarily how our challenges present themselves to us at any point in time, but how we find a ray of optimism in the midst of tragedy and model the courage to move forward in the face of our challenges.”

This is exactly what our students, staff, faculty and alumni have done. From individual acts of kindness to major institutional initiatives, there are so many amazing stories of how our community has stood up to serve in this time of great adversity.

Thanks to your very hard work and engagement, we have crossed numerous critical hurdles and are now in a strong position to focus on the future. To guide our work in this next phase, I am very pleased to announce the UAlbany Forward Together planning initiative.

Provost Carol Kim, in coordination with vice presidents Todd Foreman and Michael Christakis, will lead this new initiative. A steering committee has been formed and will be advised by multiple working groups focused on academic continuity, employee support, facilities, finances and student life. The rosters for these groups will comprise a diverse and representative mix of faculty, staff and students.

The Forward Together agenda will encompass a multitude of issues, but all discussions will include four key strategies aimed at supporting our students, our employees, and our financial stability: 

Shoring up student recruitment, with an increased emphasis on scholarships. 

Investing in four-year advisement to bolster student retention.

Scaling up high-impact practices proven to support student success.

Expanding targeted marketing efforts that lift up our unique academic and research strengths—many of which have been highlighted during our COVID-19 response. 

One of the first tasks of this initiative will be to review three scenarios for our Fall 2020 semester: mostly in-person instruction, fully remote, or a hybrid of the two. I have asked the Provost to have the Forward Together committees make recommendations about the timing and details of this decision very soon. Of course, every step we take will be guided by our top priority—that of protecting the health and safety of our community, as well as by federal, state and SUNY guidelines.

No matter where we land with these critical planning efforts, we must seize this opportunity to gather the important lessons we are learning from this pandemic. Our collective expertise, experience and creativity are extraordinary, and there has never been a more important time to bring that knowledge and talent to the table. Now, our charge is to imagine UAlbany in a post-COVID-19 world, with a focus on creating a better future for our students, our communities, and our world.

As always, please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay engaged. And never forget—we are the Great Danes!


Signature of Havidan Rodriguez

Havidán Rodríguez