one year ago today

Bill Maurer
Monday March 15 14:35:03 PDT 2021

    Dear social sciences faculty, staff, grad students, lecturers, and researchers,

    It was one year ago today that I sent my "all-socsci" message,
    letting everyone know that we would go fully remote beginning March
    16, 2020. I'll paste the message below, so we can all take a little
    trip down memory lane. And what a year it has been. The pandemic
    and all of the inequalities and failing infrastructures it revealed;
    a historic reckoning over race and anti-Black racism; an extremely
    consequential election; dramatic economic and political instability;
    fires; the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes...  I could go on and

    As a scholarly community, we have proved resilient, and creative;
    we've led the pack in terms of adapting, adjusting, communicating,
    and remaining tethered together, while serving our mission. It was
    also March 15 that we laid the groundwork for our Zotzeries of
    virtual events, which set the campus standard for how to maintain
    connection and advance our research and teaching. With the help of
    Janet DiVincenzo, grad student DTEI fellows, Soc Sci computing
    services, the Soc Sci communications team, all our staff members
    and each other, we quickly became experts in "remote instructional
    delivery," i.e. teaching in our new normal, and running the operational
    and business side of our school through telecommuting. Soon thereafter
    we held out first virtual fundraising event, and by now have held
    events for our alumni and community supporters that have reached
    thousands (and raised thousands, too). And, of course, our first
    huge public event, on the Census, was Zoombombed--once again, Social
    Sciences out in front!--which led us to enhanced security to ensure
    safe and respectful online forums.

    We have suffered some losses, too. I'd like everyone to take a
    moment today to reflect on those who are no longer with us--whether
    someone close to you, or close to a friend; a family member; a
    colleague; a staff member; a neighbor. Taken by Covid-19 or otherwise,
    they left us without our having had the opportunity to celebrate
    their lives with each other in person. But we remember. This will
    take us all some time.

    Take a moment, too, to reflect on all the new people you got to
    know this year, and on how much closer many of us have become despite
    or because of our efforts to maintain connection through Zoom,
    Animal Crossing, or whatever other technologies we've harnessed to
    help us get through this. This is something important to mark, too.

    Meanwhile: people are getting vaccinated at a faster and faster
    pace. California counties are moving out of "purple" and into the
    "red" zone. Some financial relief is on the way to struggling
    households, cities, states--and universities. There will still be
    difficult challenges ahead. K-12 schools are still mostly closed.
    We are going to be wearing masks and staying physically distant for
    quite a while. We will face a period of budget contraction. And we
    will be entering again into uncharted waters as we get ready to
    welcome incoming and returning students in the Fall. But hopefully
    by Fall we will have a better sense of exactly where we are going
    and how we'll get there. And we'll do it all together.

    Many thanks once again to everyone for your fortitude, compassion,
    and support during this long year. I'll send further updates later
    this week about Fall planning, since it's increasingly looking like
    there will be at least some in-person instruction, and that grad
    students, in particular, will want to make plans to be on campus
    if you are not already, for your own classes, TA assignments, and
    research. More on that soon!

    Thank you, as always.

    Sent March 15, 2020:
    Dear all social sciences faculty, lecturers, staff and grad students,

    I will paste below an important message from the interim Provost.
    Telecommuting and remote ... remote everything will now commence
    beginning tomorrow, Monday. Only critical staff are allowed to
    report to work. We will arrange for office access for those who
    need to retrieve materials or equipment and will send around a
    contact list soon of whom to reach to meet your needs. Your department
    manager is your primary point of contact (just as in normal times!!).
    Assistant Dean Ávila is emailing supervisory staff now with details
    on maintaining operational continuity,  and she and I will be on
    campus tomorrow to batten down the hatches! (And I will learn what
    that means, too!)

    Meanwhile: I know everyone has a lot going on dealing with exams,
    prep for spring, as well as everyone's own lives and arrangements
    given school closures and so on. Take a deep breath. Let it all
    out. And we will get through this together, albeit apart!

    Thank you all. I know this is hard. I will refrain from further
    email til tomorrow at 4pm.