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Welcome letter from the Dean of SPST

Dear Students and Faculty

Welcome to a new semester at SPST and a new chapter in our family history with the implementation of remote education events and teaching instruments as a way to overcome some of the hardships imposed by the emergence of the novel corona virus epidemic. First and foremost, be clear that all the staff at SPST-TJU are working hard to figure out the best practice to move forward, so that your educational needs and goals will be met and so that minimal delays in time to degree occur. That said this is a totally new situation and a nationwide if not global emergency. No one has all of the answers and not every decision is going to appear to be the best one; but our deepest concerns are for your welfare and we make decisions based on the best information we can gather.

Many opening semester and graduation speeches speak to the idea that the real goal of education is to prepare you to educate yourself for the unexpected changes you will encounter in your life. This semester is a clear example of learning by doing in that domain. No one could anticipate the timing and spread of this epidemic, and furthermore we are all learning of the social impact that such a contagious sickness can have. You who are studying now to be applied pharmaceutical or health scientists should take a moment to pause and think about the broader systemic picture.

A contagious disease is not just an abstract thing of nature or a confined state to a patient observed under controlled conditions. For each infected person several people are needed as caretakers and many services are needed to support each caretaker with yet more resources needed to empower each service. As the disease spreads it requires more of each element in this chain. It begins to perturb the homeostasis of society and not just the homeostasis of a patient's physiology. Tackling the problems that develop in this active situation require broad based expertise and innovative solutions across the health sciences. What could better exemplify the social impact of your education that to be prepared to contribute to restoring a healthful societal environment?

No single person is going to "solve" an epidemic, rather a team of well educated professionals working in concert is needed. Accurate and current information exchange among team members is an essential component. The ability to float new ideas and express openly opinions that allow each idea to be critically vetted is another feature to a well functioning restorative system. Every team member brings a special mastery to share and support the other. A real-life peer-to-peer learning and solving event.

So as this new semester begins, try not to become preoccupied with perceived hardships or hurdles but focus on how much you can learn from independent initiative and the use new remote education technologies. Ask yourself how not just what your are learning but how you are learning might empower your ability to address future emergency situations more efficiently.

Ultimately, through everyone's cooperative contributions the SPST family will weather this storm and write this chapter full of new remote technology-augmented educational experiences.

Be well and stay safe.