Welcome Back and Top Things to Know
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
I write with great admiration, appreciation, and anticipation for the start of the 2021-22 academic year. When Vin Scully — LMU parent, grandparent, and master of ceremonies during last month’s 109th Commencement Exercises — proclaimed “in a year that has been so improbable, the impossible is happening,” my heart was filled with gratitude for our faculty. Seeing many of you in the front rows of SoFi Stadium in that moment reaffirmed to me that our amazing, world-class faculty members indeed achieved the impossible.
You withstood the uncertainty and dangers of a global pandemic, adapted over and over again to deliver outstanding educational experiences, and innovated and refined a remote curriculum that sustained our students’ thirst for learning. All the while, you continued to shine in the academy’s more traditional activities: You generated leading scholarship in your fields; secured external grants and awards; produced creative works that entertained, inspired, and educated; and served your programs and the university generously, passionately, and unremittingly.
Please bear with me as I ask that you achieve the impossible yet again this academic year. As a community, we continue to be forced into a journey that is, in part, unknown and difficult to forecast. This year, however, we are armed with many of the lessons we’ve learned over the past 18 months, and we are bolstered by new relationships forged from teamwork with our colleagues. We are supported by an outstanding health and safety team who have spent the summer creating the safest classroom and campus environment possible for our upcoming return to campus. We are served by members of our tireless deans’ offices, library, ITS, CTE, DPS, Facilities Management, Student Affairs, and Provost’s Office teams who have and will continue to assist faculty as they return to the classroom for in-person instruction.
I know you have many questions about protocols, policies, and what-if-scenarios. Over the summer, we have continued preparing for and addressing as many of these contingencies as possible. On Aug. 6, I convened a summer meeting of our Academic Affairs Implementation Group and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee in what was a productive session that generated thoughtful recommendations for many of your concerns. Thanks to their active participation and feedback, I share the Top Things to Know, a dynamic and expanding list of FAQs to aid you in our return to campus. We have also improved familiar resources for critical information and the latest updates: our LMU Together Website and its newly reorganized A-Z index of return-to-campus protocols and topics; college/school newsletters; presidential video briefings (resuming on Aug. 31); messages from your deans; community advisories; and LMU This Week.
I met our newest faculty members on Monday during New Faculty Orientation, and it reminded me how much I look forward to being present with you in community this year. With that in mind, I share a special request: This year’s Mass of the Holy Spirit will take place on Sept. 14 at 11:15 a.m. This annual tradition is particularly meaningful as it inaugurates our academic year, and elevates us all; so, I ask you to consider ending your 10 to 11:30 a.m. classes early and starting your noon to 1:30 p.m. classes late so that you and your students may participate. Please save the date and be on the lookout for forthcoming details from our Campus Ministry colleagues.
I speak for my fellow senior leaders when I say that we are keenly focused on the success and well-being of our faculty, who have always been committed to doing right by our students. As we navigate uncertainty together, please continue working with your deans’ offices to address your questions and concerns. I am confident that we will surmount the impossible yet again, knowing that we have much to look forward to collectively: the opening of our transformed campus for in-person instruction; implementing our strategic plan; continuing our allyship with our communities of color through the LMU Anti-Racism Project; and conducting searches for new faculty, staff, and others in areas essential to the university.
Thank you for everything you do in service to our students and for the health of our community, our institution, and all those who serve the mission. I appreciate and admire what the faculty has achieved during these challenging times and am so grateful to serve alongside you as your provost.
Yours in Mission,
Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Professor of Chemistry