To Our Stan State WARRIOR Family

March 19, 2020

Dear students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members,

Two nights ago, after yet another intense day working with so many to plan and cope with the ongoing effects of COVID-19 for our campus, I sat alone in our empty MSR building, and looked out my window onto our dark, eerily quiet, yet beautifully tranquil campus drenched in the much needed rain, and again last night after another glorious spring day. I was moved to tears of heartfelt gratitude, and wanted to personally to thank you and acknowledge the anxiety and stress each of you may be feeling in surviving and adjusting to these historic and unprecedented transitions from our normal operations.

But most importantly, I want to reassure and recognize each and every one of you and to let you know that the common thread I draw from my interactions with all of you has been the undeniable strength, hope, grit, commitment and love that everyone in our community feels as a member of our Stan State Warrior family. This undisputable spirit will see us through these challenging times. Collectively, your courageousness, adaptability, hopefulness and spirit will help us stay the course and sustain us all.

To the students, thank you for your bravery, flexibility, maturity and initiative in taking on so many changes and finding positive ways to cope, negotiate and find balance as you move forward in your dreams to finish your degree. You are indeed a WARRIOR, and you make us proud! As Warriors, you rise to every challenge, tackle every obstacle, lead and pave the way for others to follow. As a mom myself, I am deeply proud of your faith in yourself and your conviction not to let these challenges set you back, and don’t be afraid to ask us for help or assistance. We are here to help you succeed!

To the faculty, thank you for your incomparable and selfless willingness to put the students first in attempting the arduous and challenging task of continuing to teach your courses using new, uncharted methods — for the love of your students in order to further their learning. Our students look to you to help guide and challenge them to prepare for their future. I am deeply indebted and grateful to you for your work, especially because of the deep connection and passion I personally have about always being a faculty member.

To the staff, thank you for your unwavering dedication and often unheralded work in your jobs and smoothing the way to make it easier for our students to navigate the daily challenges of a sometimes-complex bureaucracy of University offices and processes. You truly model Warrior grit and resilience and you maintain the will to work hard when things are tough. Thank you for always being friendly and welcoming faces in our many offices, on our grounds and buildings to assist students, faculty, other staff and the community. To those devoted staff who are still working on campus, working remotely or supporting us from home, you are heroes! Thank you for your dedication.

To the administrators, thank you for being part of our key leadership team in working with me at all hours of the day and night to help develop, shape, implement, continually track and modify our plans as circumstances continue to evolve. Your stamina, optimism and willingness to think outside of the box and move forward together is greatly appreciated. Special recognition goes to Kellie Marshall, Director of Safety and Risk Management and our Infectious Disease and Response Team (IDRT) for working around the clock to keep our campus updated and safe. We are Warriors. We stand strong for our community.

To the community, thank you for supporting and caring about your regional public University. You are key to helping us prepare and augment the Central Valley’s workforce and fuel our economy. While the campus will seem empty, please know that we are here and available as a resource and partner to respond to the effects as we emerge from this global pandemic.

In addition, some have asked me how they can help during this difficult time. My answer is “support our students.” Students always ground us and they remain the focus and reason for our work. So, I have been telling others to consider a financial gift to our Stan Cares Fund or the Warrior Food Pantry Fund to offset the financial hardship our students face, or uplift the graduating class by sharing an encouraging #StanGrad message on social media. For our students, we ask everyone to come together to support their health, safety and academic progress.

Finally, remember to take care of yourselves. Rest, relax, don’t forget to eat healthy, take a walk out in our beautiful community. Find a way to really laugh, enjoy, disconnect from stress, bond with your loved ones, refresh and energize. The road may be long and we want you to stay safe, be well and be balanced. In fact, someday you may find yourself recounting these historic times to your children and grandchildren. Their eyes may roll back and they will say, “Not again!” But you will know that you came through this experience much stronger and more sanguine that you ever expected!

We all look forward to a time when life returns to normal, though it may be a new normal. However, I know we will be transformed as tougher, more intrepid, and more buoyant than ever before. Why? Because we are Warriors. That is our spirit. WARRIOR SPIRIT. Rock on, Warriors!

With warmest appreciation and gratitude,

Ellen Junn