Mar. 18, 2020
AUSTIN, Texas— Dear Campus Community,
I write this letter with much sadness and disappointment. Spring ordinarily is a time of renewal; festivities; presentation of completed research; academic, athletic, and service awards; and celebratory hugs and handshakes. Instead, this year it is a time of social distancing, fear of the COVID-19 virus, and anxiety created by economic uncertainty throughout the world.
There are, however, reasons to feel encouraged. I am heartened and deeply grateful to the faculty, staff and students who have worked so diligently to assist in our adjustment to the difficulties presented by the extraordinary events we are experiencing. Their contributions are outstanding examples of the university’s unwavering commitment to the education and wellbeing of our students.
As part of our efforts to serve students, assure that they complete their academic goals for this year, and provide for their health and safety, we are introducing several changes to university operations. All instruction is now online for the entire spring semester. Spring Break is extended until Sunday, March 29, to allow faculty more time to convert to online instruction and refine their presentations. Deans and faculty are also working on ways to best accommodate students in internships, labs, studios, and other experiential learning courses. On-campus student housing is closed beginning Sunday, April 5. The vice presidents for academic and student affairs are preparing additional details to be sent to students later today, and the university remains open with faculty and staff working remotely during this time period and available via email and phone to support our students.
Due to government restrictions on public gatherings, our usual graduation ceremonies at the Frank Erwin Center will not be possible this year. We are developing alternative plans, including a virtual commencement that would provide for a celebration that could include family and friends. We will also continue to explore ways to hold a traditional commencement at a later date.
Tragedy and serious disruptions are not new to St. Edward’s. Our community has endured fires, devastating tornadoes and other major disruptions in the past. Through reflective prayer, trust in Providence, and unfailing resolve fueled by the hope inspired by our Holy Cross mission, our St. Edward’s University community has emerged from each challenge stronger and better than before. We shall do so once again.
George E. Martin, PhD