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March 20, 2020 | Campus Communication
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14
I know many of our students and their families are grappling to deal with situations that they never dreamed would take place; a virtual learning environment rather than face-to-face interactions, a college campus experience that has dramatically changed; students who had planned for the excitement of spring break, now having to return to their homes for the remainder of the semester; the challenges we face as we plan for our graduates to celebrate their achievements, and the list goes on. My family and I face many of these same uncertainties. Each of you are in my thoughts and prayers as we navigate such uncertain times. I want to assure you we keep you at the heart of all of our decisions. Our main focus is on the safety and health of our community.
I meet with my leadership team on a daily basis to address new information as it is shared. Following is what we know today and some clarifications from past communications. My hope is this will ease your fears for today. This is a fluid situation and we continue to keep you at the forefront of our decisions.
Virtual campus learning will continue to the end of the spring undergraduate semester (May 8, 2020) and the end of the spring graduate quarter (May 31, 2020). At this time we do not anticipate the need for additional class time for the current term. Students are able to utilize their same textbooks for the virtual campus learning. If you have rented your textbook, you can return at the end of the term as an email with instructions will be sent to you during finals week. We continue to work with Barnes & Noble to make this process as seamless as possible and will update you as more information is available.
We apologize if there was confusion around my message for the May Commencement ceremonies. We look forward to celebrating all of the achievements of our students who completed their degrees in December 2019 or will complete their degrees in May/August 2020. Please be assured our intention is to postpone our commencement celebrations in order to find a more appropriate date to celebrate the milestones of our students in style. Each graduate will be receiving their cap and gown at their home address. Make sure you take it out of the bag and start pressing it. Hang it up for all to see and for motivation to help you finish your remaining degree requirements. Even start decorating the cap with your own personal touch. Despite all of the unknowns, we will do everything we can to ensure this is still a special time for you and your family. As soon as we have more information, we will share those details with you.
For those students who reside on campus, we have asked for all to move off campus to keep everyone safe. If we all come together and take an active role in practicing social distancing, our hope is to contain this virus. I know this has caused a hardship for many families. We are actively working on a plan to provide a refund/credit for room and board. Please be patient as we await information from the federal government as it pertains to financial aid refunds. We hope to have information to you by early April on this matter.
In closing, it is times like these that truly define who we are. I trust you will find solace in the Benedictine hallmarks to help you and your loved ones as we weather this storm. My hope is we will come out on the other side a much more unified nation, better prepared to secure a brighter future for generations to come.
Even in these most difficult and uncertain times, Benedictine students and graduates around the globe are continuing to provide "light to the world" when needed the most.
Please stay safe and be well!
Charles W. Gregory