Dear Students, Faculty, Librarians, and Staff,
I am overjoyed to write my first message to the USF community in my new capacity as provost and vice president of academic affairs. The past week has filled me with gratitude and humility, as I have been welcomed by the USF community: gratitude for the wholehearted support, care, and affirmation I have received from everyone I have interacted with, and humility as I contemplate the tasks ahead of me and the responsibilities that you have entrusted me with. I hope, over the coming weeks and months, to share your struggles, celebrate your successes, earn your trust, and find ways to partner with you in making USF the best place to learn, live, and work that it can be.
Provost’s Office Updates
During interviews for this position, I heard many community members speak about their desire for greater transparency. One of my top priorities is to improve communication by keeping all members of the university community informed of news and initiatives from the Office of the Provost. To that end, I have several staffing updates to share.
First, I would like to extend my gratitude to Tyrone H. Cannon, who served as interim provost since February 2020, for graciously welcoming me and facilitating a seamless transition to USF. I am grateful for his partnership as I begin my tenure here. Tyrone will take a research leave during the 2021–22 academic year, investigating the innovative strategies developed by academic libraries during the pandemic. As part of this transition plan, I am pleased to announce that Shawn Calhoun has agreed to continue to serve as acting dean of the library, a position he has held since spring 2020. Thank you, Tyrone and Shawn, for your leadership and dedicated service to the university.
I am delighted that Pamela Balls Organista has agreed to continue in her role as vice provost, overseeing programs and initiatives central to my office’s focus on equity, inclusive excellence, and intersectional antiracism. In addition to serving as co-lead of USF’s Strategic Planning Core Committee, her portfolio includes ADEI, the Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, the McCarthy Center, living-learning communities, the Black Achievement, Success and Engagement initiative, and academic programming at Star Route Farms. Pamela is currently engaging the community in listening sessions focusing on how we might improve our efforts in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Connecting With You
As many of you know, I am committed to a collaborative leadership style that starts with deep listening and inquiry. I am grateful that we will be able to be back on campus together soon, with opportunities to connect, share stories, and co-create together.
In the meantime, I invite students to join me and other administrators at the ASUSF Summer Town Hall, which will be held virtually from 6 to 8 p.m. (PT) on July 28. I look forward to hearing from students as we plan for a safe and productive fall semester.
Beginning next month, I will host weekly office hours online that are open to all students, faculty, librarians, and staff. I hope to use this time to begin to learn about the needs, priorities, and experiences of our community as we transition back to in-person learning, working, and teaching with a focus on maximizing our students’ academic and campus experiences. I invite you to sign up for an appointment and look forward to engaging with you soon.
And for all members of our community, I remind you to register to attend the 2021 Community Convocation at 9 a.m. (PT) Monday, Aug. 23. As part of this virtual session to open the academic year, I will join Fr. Paul Fitzgerald to talk about our shared vision for the future and answer some of your questions. Please also join us in person at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 in the Sobrato Center for an interfaith service of remembrance and reflection, of healing and hope.
In closing, I encourage you to take time during what remains of the summer for rest and renewal. We all need space to unplug and to reconnect with our energy, purpose, and joy. And our work to “change the world from here” will be more authentic and effective when we approach it with the vibrant inner energy that comes from self-care and wellness.
Julia Chinyere Oparah
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs