President Shrum addresses campus health, Big 12 expansion
Friday, September 10, 2021
As we embrace the fall semester, I want to commend all of you for doing your part to help protect our campus. Even though we see cases decline around campus and in Stillwater, we must remain vigilant in our public health measures to preserve the semester.
Do your part for public health.
I encourage all our students, faculty and staff members to get vaccinated. The research shows that vaccines are our best defense against COVID-19 and promote better health outcomes. As we have seen in Oklahoma, the unvaccinated face the most significant risk, as evidenced by the hospitalization data. I am pleased to report the number of vaccinations administered on campus has grown to almost 10,000 students and employees.
However we cannot let up — we must keep promoting and administering vaccinations, a key component of our strategy to keep the campus safe and open. The Delta variant continues to be far more contagious, and we must all abide by CDC guidelines to mask indoors in public, quarantine when needed, get tested when symptoms appear and get vaccinated. We will continue to make vaccines and testing free and available at University Health Services on our campus.
Mask usage at a time when COVID-19 remains prevalent helps mitigate the risk. Today more than 90,000 masks have been distributed across campus this semester, and while we do not have the authority to mandate masks, we expect them to be worn indoors in public according to CDC guidelines. I appreciate in advance your cooperation with this important public health measure.
I want to thank our loyal faculty and staff for their input, encouragement and diligence to help us navigate together through the current situation. I appreciate the student organization leaders who have been especially helpful recently to create social media videos promoting masks and vaccinations. I’m communicating daily with Interim Provost Jeanette Mendez to gather faculty perspectives, and have asked her to create a faculty task force to facilitate additional planning for the spring 2022 semester as well as discussions about the summer and fall 2022 terms. And I applaud the efforts of the Faculty Council to gather input and provide insights as we navigate the semester.
Presidents vote on Big 12 conference expansion.
As many of you have read in recent headlines, I joined my fellow presidents from Big 12 universities this morning to accept membership applications from four respected universities with impressive athletic traditions into the Big 12 athletic conference. Today's vote represents the first of many steps to take place over the next couple of years. I am enthusiastic about the future of Oklahoma State University athletics as part of the reimagined Big 12 with the addition of Brigham Young University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Houston, and the University of Cincinnati, which creates an impressive geographical footprint. I also appreciate the leadership of our athletic director Chad Weiberg, and I'm proud to work alongside him to chart a bright future for Oklahoma State University athletics. The expanded conference means our student-athletes will compete at the highest level in every sport for national championships.
The resiliency of the OSU community over the past year and a half has been impressive. We continue to adapt to ever-evolving challenges while meeting our land grant teaching, research and service mission. Again, thanks to all of you for your efforts to make this semester a success. Let's continue to work together on our shared goal to protect our campus and preserve the semester.
Thank you, and Go Pokes!