president joe bertolino delivers state of the university virtually

Sofia Rositani Arts & Entertainment Editor

On Sept. 10, President Joe Bertolino held the fall 2020 State of the University; however, this year’s was virtual. Bertolino brought up topics that were impacting the university, especially COVID-19.

“We’ve had a summer to prepare to offer our students the best learning experience possible given the circumstances,” said Bertolino. “As we move forward the health and safety of all members of our campus community remains our highest priority.”

Bertolino also said the university has protocols in place and will continue supplying the latest information to students regarding COVID-19. Each Monday there will be updates about the prior week’s test results on the new reopening website.

“For the good of our community, I ask you to continue wearing masks and observing social distancing. This is truly the only way that we can keep the campus open until Thanksgiving,” Bertolino said. “I know that the past few months have been strange for many of you. The pandemic and related issues of economic hardship and racial equities has tested our resolve [and] our collective character.”

Enrollment has declined more than 25 percent, according to Bertolino. The causes of this decline may be due to health issues, a gap year, or financial issues. In prior years, the number of students enrolled was higher.

“Our task in the coming weeks or months is to drive these numbers back up,” said Bertolino.

During the livestream Bertolino talked about positive events that happened over the summer and when the school was shut down, such as when Asma Rahimyar was awarded the Harry S. Truman scholarship, the first student to ever win this scholarship from a Connecticut State University, and the Financial Literacy program was awarded best in the nation last June.

Before the livestream started, students received an email from Patrick Dilger, director of Integrated Communications & Marketing, who directed students to a place they can send out questions to Bertolino so he can answer them during the livestream. Many questions had to do with the outbreak and the reopening of campus.

A question was asked about how students will have to be randomly tested throughout the semester and Bertolino responded this is not the university’s decision -instead all the COVID-19 decisions for state universities were made by Governor Ned Lamont.

“I think there is still assumption that there are a lot of people here and that just isn’t the case, in fact there are very few people here on campus most students and most faculty decided to work remotely,” said Bertolino.

“The university has been continuously working with students and faculty who are working remotely and trying to be flexible and understanding with them. At least 70 percent of classes on campus are currently being taught fully online.”

“There will be no going back to the sense of normalcy that we experienced for much of our institution’s history. Instead, we must move ahead and make changes in our disciplines that reflect a post pandemic world and the evolving needs of our students and economy,” Bertolino said, “but for now our immediate priorities are everyone’s safety the success of our students, delivering a quality education, the advancement of our admission, and ultimately a return to stability.”

Photo credit: Jessica Guerrucci

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