Welcome to a New Academic Year—on the Brink of a New Era at Baruch
September 2, 2020
Dear Baruch Community,
Greetings and welcome to the Fall 2020 semester. I am excited to begin this most unusual academic year with you as your new president.
As I communicated to you in mid-July, Baruch will offer the vast majority of classes and services online for Fall 2020. Our decision was made after broad consultation with the campus community, public health experts, and the CUNY Central Office. The Task Force for the Future, which I commissioned before starting my tenure as president, made thoughtful and comprehensive recommendations on ways to deliver our mission while supporting our students, faculty, and staff. We have started to implement their recommendations.
As I welcomed the Class of 2024 at the recent virtual Student Convocation, I reassured our students that we are fully committed to their success—and their safety. And that Baruchians have the scrappiness, the grit, and the creativity to find a new path in this uncharted territory. It is worth noting that in Fall 2020 most student services have transitioned online, with academic advisors, career coaches, and counselors continuing to offer phone and virtual sessions.
To provide an up-to-date, one-stop shop for information about all aspects of College services in our new environment, last week we launched the comprehensive website Baruch Forward: Fall 2020 and Beyond. The site contains the College’s Safe Campus Reopening Plan, while providing easy access to a variety of resources, support, and services for the campus community to navigate our—now primarily virtual—campus.
The website is also home to related and continually evolving web properties, such as Community Connections, which showcases how Baruchians have continued to be a source of inspiration, connection, and achievement during these unprecedented times.
The above measures are designed to keep faculty, staff, and student presence on campus to a minimum—as is called for given our campus’s vertical configuration and the need to observe social distancing. I am grateful to the dedication of our team who worked tirelessly to get the College ready for the new academic year.
Moving Beyond the Present: A New Vision for Baruch
Since March, we have been learning, working, and living in a near-constant state of change and uncertainty. Recent news of Jacob Blake’s shooting once again reminds us of the long journey we must make as a society to overcome prejudice and systemic inequality. In such an environment, sensitivity and responsiveness are crucial for institutional effectiveness and success. But if we think and act only in response to crises, we are missing an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and devise ways to evolve as a learning institution and an inclusive community. We, together, get to shape our vision of Baruch’s future.
I believe that Baruch occupies a distinctive niche in American higher education through a rare amalgam of top-quality academic achievements and national leadership in social mobility and that Baruch is uniquely poised for growth and broader social impact. As I assume the leadership of this remarkable institution, I reckon this is the right moment for us to reflect and build on the College’s past successes, to review and revitalize our positioning and engagement with current stakeholder audiences, to identify new opportunities for innovation and leadership, and to formulate long-term plans to expand our reputational footprint beyond New York City, to national and international audiences.
To seek additional counsel and to gain broader perspectives, I have decided to establish a strategic leadership advisory group, the President’s Vision Council. I will charge the council, composed of 15 individuals (8 internal and 7 external), to recommend new strategies to elevate Baruch’s impact, visibility, and reputation—while reimagining how Baruch may differentiate and increase its competitiveness among institutions of higher education.
Currently, Baruch College is a dynamic and exciting institution at the precipice of great change and opportunity. The Covid-19 pandemic and the national reckoning of social injustice have pushed higher education to the verge of a dramatic paradigm shift. Through the President’s Vision Council, I am calling on the Baruch community to re-envision the way we deliver education, research, and creative work for the postpandemic environment, while fully engaging New York City and its diverse communities through the recovery efforts. As the College embarks on a path to transform how we deliver our mission, we also create new opportunities to be seen and to resonate with the hearts and minds of our stakeholder audiences. We need the imagination and the expertise from our talented Baruch community to envision this future and join in this exciting endeavor.
Building on the community aspiration uncovered by the Task Force for the Future, the Vision Council will help to bridge our aspiration with external perception and expectation and so define a clear vision and a resonating narrative for Baruch’s future. I look forward to sharing with you the council’s findings later in the semester.
In the past six months, we have all tapped into ingenuity and flexibility that we might not have known we possessed. With no warning, the Baruch community quickly adapted and re-envisioned the way we deliver our mission in the virtual world. Members of the community also came together during times of national unrest over entrenched racism and supported their own communities and beyond in creative and inspiring ways.
Please watch Be Resilient, our video that celebrates the supercharged resiliency of the Baruch community. It reminds us all to Be Involved, Be an Ally, Be an Example, and most of all, Be Baruch. Please watch, like, and share across social media.
On that inspiring note, I want to wish you all the best for the fall semester and invite you to read and comment on my monthly blog, engage with me on Twitter @DavidWuBaruch, and send your questions and feedback via email at President@baruch.cuny.edu. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you virtually soon!
S. David Wu
President, Baruch College