Monday’s Message from President HU, Wasif Rizvi

Dear Habib University Community,

First of all, I pray that you and your loved ones are safe.

News on the coronavirus front is mixed at best. On the positive side, with unprecedented adjustments and slowdowns, growth rate of coronavirus hasn’t accelerated in the last one week. Nevertheless there are roughly 100,000 new cases reported every day from around the world. News at home is gradually getting a bit worrisome. Some of you may have heard about new clusters being found in Karachi. Many of these clusters are in very crowded low-income parts of town, which is particularly concerning.

There’s better news on the mortality front. Fortunately we haven’t been hit with waves of very serious patients or high numbers of fatalities.  Medical research or protocols have not been able to suggest anything more effective than social distancing and maximum possible isolation, combined with a detailed antiseptic hygienic routine. This routine includes frequent hand washing, ensuring disinfecting of used surfaces, doors, change of clothes, disinfecting soles of shoes etc.  There are now very good videos and other guidelines available online to reorient our lives. Please keep knowing more. One curve which need not be flattened is the learning curve about our new reality.

This is the last week of online classes before the summer break. First following are some important announcements.

For Students:

  • With the break coming up students can look forward to keeping themselves engaged with creative, academic, and reflective activities during this time. The following will be available to all students during the break:
  1. Faculty webinars – HU faculty will conduct weekly webinars for any student to join focusing on how to enrich learning, topics of global importance and how students can pursue their academic interest during this time.
  2. Office of Academic Performance – OAP will offer a number of summer academic support sessions through EHSAS and Writing Center via peer tutors. Students are encouraged to use the break as an opportunity to improve on their skills.
  3. Office of Career Services – OCS will be offering multiple online sessions, live with faculty, particularly to support graduate school application process. Sessions will also be conducted online for mock interviews, resume writing, networking and negotiations, to name a few. Graduating class and Class of 2021 should actively avail these opportunities and register.
  4. Office of Health and Wellness – the student life team has already initiated a number of activities to support students with staying active, energetic, and to help reflect on the current crisis. We hope that you avail these opportunities.

For Faculty:

  1. It was encouraging to know that over 60 faculty members attended the online monthly faculty meeting. It is reassuring to see faculty dedication to ensuring that we achieve our academic goals, improve student experience with online learning. Through the Associate Dean of Teaching, Learning and Research, faculty members should look forward to more resources and support to enhance online learning capabilities during the break. We are also exploring multiple possibilities of enhancing our online teaching capabilities for the future.

For Staff:

  1. Online Learning: I would like to thank all the staff working actively to support online teaching and learning activities, particularly the Information Technology team. Thank you for your active response to student, faculty and staff technology requests and issues.
  2. Campus Preparations in view of Covid-19: Although the exact date remains very uncertain but to prepare for our return on campus, the facilities, HR and other department representatives are working closely to create a working space that allows for physical distancing and ensuring that spaces are disinfected. Please look forward to hearing from the Human Resources on updates in this regard. We would appreciate that all members cooperate and show patience during this workplace transition.

Important General information:

I would urge all of you to watch this candid, raw, heartfelt message from a young ER doctor from Karachi who’s at the very front of the frontline, confronting COVID-19 in New York. New York state alone has more cases of coronavirus than any other COUNTRY in the world. His message is for everyone in Pakistan and especially focusing on Karachi, a city which he seemingly knows intimately well.

This message should put the medical challenge and intensity of this disease in sharp perspective.  This message is a passionate appeal to all young people to be more watchful. Young and mobile people around the world have acted as the asymptomatic carriers for the virus to infect more vulnerable members of their families and communities. I would reiterate a similar appeal to all the younger members of Habib University’s community.

I want to say a longer goodbye in view of your summer break. Thus far we continue to feel optimistic about the prospect of restarting our on campus classes on June 1st.  Please remain engaged with all the relevant offices for specific information.  We will continue to take stock of the situation and I will update you all, at the beginning of next month.

I will close today with the help of two contemporary Urdu literature masters. .  Literature usually is a phenomenal portal for us to become conscious of our intuitions especially in face of such extraordinary experiences.  Iftikhar Arif Sahib signals to a profound possibility in our disengaged state from everyday mundanities.

امید و بیم کے محور سے ہٹ کے دیکھتے ہیں

ذرا سی دیر کو دنیا سے کٹ کے دیکھتے ہیں

In the other touching poem, Amjad Islam Amjad Sahib draws our attention to the magic of small contributions in reclaiming our agency and hope.

میں جانتا ہوں کہ میری کم تاب

روشنی سے سحر نہ ہو گی

مگرمیں پھر بھی سیاہ شب کا

غبار بن کر نہیں جیوں گا

کرن ہو کتنی نحیف لیکن کرن ہے پھر بھی

وہ ترجماں ہے کہ روشنی کا وجود زندہ ہے

اور جب تک

یہ روشنی کا وجود زندہ ہے رات اپنے

سیاہ پنجوں کو جس قدربھی درازکر لے

کہیں سے سورج نکل پڑے گا

Shams/Sooraj/Aftab is our cosmic protector, in more ways than one, InshAllah.

With duas and best wishes,

Wasif A. Rizvi


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