A Message from CoE Dean Rod Alferness

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,


I hope that this message finds you and yours healthy and safe in your home and in a positive mindset amid the unfolding coronavirus crisis. The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone as we have watched the COVID-19 outbreak become a global pandemic that affects us all and will continue to impact our daily lives for some time. 


For those of you who have returned home, I hope that your travels were as smooth as possible  and that home provides a sense of relief and release. For those remaining in the Santa Barbara area, we hope you are comfortable and safe. Regardless of where you are, we know that you are spending a great deal of time at home to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Hopefully, while physically separated, you are finding ways to maintain your sense of community and your connection to family and friends.


The spring quarter is upon us, and while it feels a bit strange to say “Welcome back” when many are not on campus, our mission in the College of Engineering is to provide our students with a successful quarter of remote teaching and learning. Over the past few weeks, faculty, staff, and administrators have worked tirelessly to ensure that the quality of this instruction will remain at the highest possible level.


To staff, I offer my sincere thanks for all your efforts to rapidly transition to the remote operation while delivering the support so essential to our teaching and research missions. To faculty, a great deal of the burden of moving to remote teaching has fallen on you, even as many of you have had to simultaneously temporarily close your labs as well. We thank you for your extraordinary efforts. For students, please know that we will do everything we can to ensure that your learning experience remains on track during the spring quarter. 


Fortunately, in this time, when we need to connect and learn together while physically dispersed, we are able to effectively work remotely and convene on screens, something that is possible because of the internet. Can you imagine having to deal with this pandemic without it?  Computer scientists and engineers have been essential to the development of the internet, and as engineers in this crisis, we will continue to demonstrate two strengths of UC Santa Barbara — collaboration and innovation — while making this transition to remote learning. Undoubtedly, there will be some bumps along the way, but I am confident that together we will overcome them. 


While this crisis continues to bring out the best in people in so many ways, it is extremely unfortunate to hear scattered reports of discriminatory or harassing behavior in the context of  the coronavirus. Please know that any such behavior toward any person or groups of people has no place in our community and is at odds with our core values at UCSB. A hallmark of a university education — and of our campus — is that every one of us gains strength and insight through our diversity.  Every day, whether in crisis or in stable times, we welcome and learn from and with students, post-docs, staff and faculty from all over the world. With the COVID-19 threat comes a growing awareness that life is precious, that we are all in this together, and that we will get through it by working together and keeping each other safe. 


Welcome back!


With warm wishes for health and wellness to all,


Rod Alferness
Dean, UCSB College of Engineering


Rod Alferness, Dean of UC Santa Barbara's College of Engineering