Welcoming the NJCU Community to the Spring 2021 Semester

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Dear Members and Friends of the NJCU Community,

Happy New Year and welcome back for the start of the Spring 2021 semester!

While 2020 was one of the most challenging years imaginable, there is optimism for the future as we move further into 2021. As the vaccines begin to be administered across our state and the nation, brighter days are ahead.

As actor Michael J. Fox once said “I think the more unexpected something is, the more there is to learn from it.”

We all have learned a lot from the experiences of the last year, and as the spring 2021 semester commences, I want to highlight some good news.

As you know, the campus has remained open since the pandemic began. Our students live on campus and our residence halls are a safe space with full support systems in place for our student population. Meanwhile, the library and computer labs are open and there are a swath of in-person classes taking place to ensure that essential learning continues smoothly. Student services are also fully available remotely, such as tutoring and library reference desk, the counseling center, and food pantry, among others.  

In the Fall 2020 semester, we offered a mix of in-class, hybrid, hyflex, and online teaching modalities on the BlackBoard platform. A variety of software solutions were offered to students, faculty and staff to maximize their efficiency in each modality or working arrangement. This will continue in the Spring 2021 term with more opportunities for in-person instruction. Hyflex courses will allow for flexibility in adapting to the modality that works for each instructor, each course, and each student. Professors will be indicating within the Blackboard system which modality each class will be conducted in. 

I am happy to report that through a targeted testing approach known as surveillance testing, small groups are now able to interact on campus.

Thanks to the success of the testing, our athletics program has been practicing in small groups throughout the fall semester and will begin an abbreviated intercollegiate season next month, beginning with our basketball, bowling and newly-launched wrestling programs.

The NJCU nursing program is ranked among the Top 10 percent in the nation and as part of their in-person clinical experiences, our nursing students will work with the Monmouth County Department of Health to assist with COVID-19 vaccine administration. Additional opportunities in Hudson County are being finalized for the spring and summer 2021 terms for our nursing program.

The Center for the Arts continues to offer robust and thoughtful programming in a virtual format to our entire community, and has partnered with other organizations throughout the city to help broadcast their programming. Two events offered by the CFTA are listed below and more events are being added all the time.
Learn more.

One of the challenges that all schools faced in the Fall semester was the federal VISA program for international students. Even in the midst of COVID, this semester we welcome new students from the United Kingdom, France, Italy and India, which includes the newest cohort of the Patel Scholars — six students from HA College of Commerce in Ahmedabad who arrived on campus last week. To date, we have 17 students in the Patel Scholars Program, which began in 2016.

In addition, although outbound student mobility has been suspended due to COVID, the Office of Global Initiatives is developing opportunities for NJCU students to participate in virtual international exchanges and internships. We have connected NJCU faculty with colleagues at our partner universities around the world for a variety of virtual projects, including lectures and classroom collaborations. We have begun planning for a limited number of faculty-led international programs in Spring 2022, with a return to a full schedule of International travel in Spring 2023.

This semester begins not only a new year but a new presidential administration in the United States. The Office of Global Initiatives remains enthusiastic that policies governing global mobility will be more friendly to international students as we continue to progress through the pandemic. 

This spring, the A. Harry Moore School, which has partnered with our institution for much of its history, will celebrate its centennial anniversary. We will be sharing more details in the coming months on plans to recognize this historic milestone.

Finally, I am pleased to share with you that, last week, Governor Murphy signed legislation designating Juneteenth as a state and public holiday beginning this year. The holiday will be observed during the month of June on the third Friday, beginning June 18, 2021. Juneteenth commemorates the day that Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, relaying the news that the Civil War ended and the enslaved were free. The news was delivered on June 19, 1865; two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

For over 100 years, African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth as a day of learning and reflection about the history of injustice and the struggles African Americans in this country have faced for centuries. Learn more about the significance of Juneteenth and its history.

As we begin the 2021 semester, please know that brighter days are ahead. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

There is light on the horizon and hope abounds. While we have faced unprecedented challenges, together we will continue to overcome and be stronger than ever before. I thank each and every one of you for your collective efforts in continuing to make NJCU the dynamic and thriving campus — a family atmosphere — that makes our university community a truly special place to learn, live and work. I wish all of you a healthy 2021 and a successful Spring semester.

Warm regards,

Sue Henderson, Ph.D.