Welcome to the 2021–22 Academic Year at USF

Dear Members of the USF Community,

Welcome to the 2021–22 academic year at the University of San Francisco.

Over the past few days, it has been wonderful to welcome new undergraduate and graduate students and to welcome back our continuing students. Move-in days gave me the opportunity to meet parents and family members, and to introduce 600 of our second-year students to the beautiful new residence halls on Lone Mountain. All students, faculty, and staff have been discovering our new dining commons and are seeing other construction projects in their late stages. With fall semester classes beginning today (and law school classes beginning yesterday, and other graduate programs last week), I am excited that a primarily in-person educational and co-curricular experience is back, even as we continue to use technology for rich, remote learning opportunities.

This time last year was a different story. We began fall 2020 in a mostly remote environment within an unprecedented global context: vaccines were still in development, our communities were protesting against racism, sexism, and other forms of bias and discrimination, and the lead up to the November 2020 elections revealed deep divides in this nation.

Our world still faces grave challenges — environmental, societal, economic, and political; many of our international students are monitoring troubles back home. Yet the USF community – alumni as well as students, faculty, and staff – are dedicated to supporting each other, making our voices heard, and changing the world.

As we mostly gather on campus, I ask for your patience as we navigate city, state, and federal guidance on managing the COVID-19 pandemic. We are monitoring public health data daily and regularly updating our protocols and policies. USF Together is your best resource for the latest information.

At our virtual Community Convocation yesterday, Provost Chinyere Oparah and I outlined many of the priorities for the year ahead. If you were unable to watch live, I invite you to view the video. I look forward to communicating with you about our progress throughout the year.

To faculty and staff: thank you for your commitment and creativity during the past 18 months and for your generous spirits as we begin this new year.

To all of you: thank you for the well wishes and prayers after I tested positive for COVID-19 (despite being fully vaccinated). I want you to know that I’m feeling 100 percent fine, and all my symptoms are gone. Vaccines work!

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and staying healthy, and I wish you a wonderful, gratifying, and productive fall semester.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.